I have a letter to write. It is a letter I am excited to write but I can’t seem to find the words to put down on paper. I spent a great deal of time last night – meaning between midnight and six am thinking about this letter and writing letters in general.
When I was little in the 50’s and 60’s letter writing was still the thing to do. My mother had a round robin letter writing group with her old college friends. There were six of them – one started a letter and sent it off. That person then read, and wrote her letter. She then sent the two of them off and so it continued. Letters traveling around and around keeping everyone posted on their life and their thoughts. They kept this going from college until late in their lives when a few passed away and others began to find it hard to physically write. The whole thing was amazing – decades of writing.
Then there were my favorite authors or famous people who you would hear about their “letters” being saved. In my head those letters were their personal papers but as I got older I realized they were really letters. People like Georgia O’Keeffe, Anne Lindbergh (she actually made copies of all the letters she sent out and saved them), Ben Franklin, Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto (English Gardners) all wrote and saved letters. This list goes on and on!
Even as a kid I wrote letters. They were always a struggle but I wrote them. I wrote letters to my Grandmother during the winter when she was in Florida with friends, letters to my Aunts who gave us books when we went to visit and letters to my cousins to just say hi! None of these letters were worth saving – I can tell you that! My Grandmother saved them – oh they were bad!
Once I was in college there was a boy friend who really wanted to be a boyfriend who sent daily long letters that felt heavy and confining. I did not save those either.
Then came the boyfriend on campus we wrote during the summer months – those I saved and they are in our basement with old photos. I have no idea what our teenage selves wrote. (I guess I should check them out some cold winter day while drinking a cup of tea.)
This little letter history brings us to today when long form, hand written letters have all but disappeared. I do write a paper letter to my Aunt, who is 97, every so often and she always writes back on small lined paper (about 5 or 6 pages). I am saving those – 96 and writing me letters how special!
Most of the time we use e-mail. It is quick, efficient and easy to do. It is great for every day notes and questions. It is wonderful to make a connection with friends or someone you have never met.
But – and this one is a big one for me – it is not a medium of long thought out discussions. I don’t write what my heart feels or the struggles of my life in an e-mail. It does not seem like the place for discussing large content information like Chatto and Lloyd did in their hand written letters about their gardens.
So where does this take me – all this thinking about letters. As I said I have an important letter to write. A letter that welcomes my son’s best friend and fiancee into our family. A letter to show love and to embrace a young woman we already care dearly about. Such big thoughts and ideas to put on paper.
Oh – can I do it?
I am out of practice writing this type of letter – not sure I ever wrote letters with such meaning (even to my now husband of many years – he wrote them but I am not sure I did). I don’t have the tools around either – paper, a nice pen, envelopes. So maybe if I head out to the stationary store (do we still have stores like that?) I know there is a paper store not far from here with fancy wrapping paper, cards and gifts. They must have stationary! Right?
So wish me luck in finding the words and the stationary to let this young lady and the soon to be couple know how much we care about them.