Old Fashioned Letter Writing

The joy of a letter

The Joy of a Letter

Growing up my mother always had me write thank you notes for gifts I received from friends and relatives. These short notes would be penned immediately after receipt of said gift, no time wasted. There was something urgent about letting the giver know how touched I was with the thoughtfulness of the item sent.

In the fifth grade I moved across the country to Santa Barbara, California with my family for one year. In 1965 this was rarely done, we had not yet become the mobile world we now have become. During this time I sent many letters back home to friends and hoped that one day there would be something in the return mail for me. I also was given the name of a Japanese teenager who lived across the world and she and I would trade letters and postcards for many years to come. It was a different world then, one that required patience and careful handling of letters.


Throughout history there have been many kings and queens, writers and movie stars that have traded letters over the sands of time. Wartime in particular saw the slowest mail come in, from sweethearts who had penned love letters months earlier espousing their love for each other. Sometimes people serving overseas would die before their letter had been received by its recipient, almost as though the words were being spoken from the grave.

Both my parents were avid letter writers. My dad would correspond with his cousins and good friends via his portable typewriter. When my family moved to Virginia and then Florida he would send us beautifully written and/or typed pages of his daily activities with twists of humor therein. I have all the letters he sent me during that time and I reflect on them now and again.

A letter keeps on giving and giving, long after the first reading. The writer offers a window into their world at the time, and one that never changes, even after many years. Once written, it remains an indelible imprint on embossed paper. The day, the date and the envelope even tell a story of travel and connection.


E-mail has become a written connector now for many people. It is uplifting to think that people do correspond in this manner, even though many years before they would have rebuffed the idea of writing a letter to anyone. In this cyberworld the instantaneous advantage of  reading something written is a luxury to many of us who remember the slow wheels of progress with the US mail system. But there is still something very special in receiving a beautifully penned hand written letter in the mail from someone. It is much more personal than something sent via the e-mail. It offers more to the reader in the way it feels, as it has been held in the hand of the writer, and molded to offer the reader a glimpse into the inner world of the writer.

One day we will probably have people who will have to decipher hand written cursive written letters. The art of handwriting has faded away with the clicking of keys and the advent of the printed word. Yet in the depths of history there will remain someone who will find a lovely letter, or handwritten note and perhaps reflect upon its contents with great relish.

There is a joy in receiving a letter in the mail. A secret pleasure, a private moment. Some letters contain words that cannot be taken back and carry heartache, while others proffer a feeling of love and emotional connection.

Before it is too late, offer a letter of love to someone you know. The joy of receiving this letter will most assuredly make their day.

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Comments 11 comments

melindaenglish profile image

melindaenglish 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Aley, in my studies of Hypatia of Alexandria, Synsius, Bishop of Cyrene saved all his many letters he received from Hypatia,astronomer, inventor, and great speaker of Platonistic philosophical truths. Due to this treasured source of affection and dedication by Synsius, the world knows so much more about this complex woman of great integrity and honor.

The art of handwriting also is a window to the soul, as the stroke of the pen reveals deeply embedded characteristics of our individual nature. I love that you speak of it as something so reverent, and important to keep alive and flourishing.


Aley Martin profile image

Aley Martin 6 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA Author

That's right! You do handwriting analysis! Love the Hypatia story...glad those letters survived!!!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Ohhhhhhhh! This is so dear to me! My mother wrote me every day when I was away - which was a lot. She didn't write a long letter - but it was so precious to me. She always said "A letter is like a visit from a friend." - and so it is. My Dad also wrote great letters, not as frequently but so valued. Real "keepers".

I've always loved writing letters. Letter correspondence was a way of life. Yes - thank you notes, too. I still do that, even if I've thanked them at the time in person or on the phone. Some of my favorite poets wrote magnificent letters which almost outshine their poetry!

My poetry was all written out in longhand, either on notebook paper, one to a page & saved in those essay type covers. Many volumes of those, as well as others handwritten into "blank books" - or on loose papers, frontispieces of books - wherever inspiration hit.

I hope cursive handwriting never fades away. Perhaps the coming disasters will deprive people of electricity long enough to rediscover that their fingers can do more than type.

Anyway - thanks for another wonderful hub, Aley. Truly beautiful - and vote-worthy!


Adela Rasta profile image

Adela Rasta 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

This is a topic dear to my heart! I've always loved letter-writing, and also receiving letters. I've had penfriends since I was 10 years old. I often wonder about the fate of future correspondence...it's not likely that people are going to keep e-mails in their inbox for posterity! There is nothing like the written word, a handwritten letter which arrives perhaps from an exotic, far-flung location, letting you know that someone, somewhere, is thinking of you!

For me, writing is inspiration. Even in this world of modern technology, I prefer to handwrite drafts of my essays, poems etc before typing them. For me, it's the best way to get that creative flow going! A keyboard doesn't have the same effect.


Vernpaulwriter profile image

Vernpaulwriter 5 years ago from backwoods of Nevada

Having taught the fifth grade for eight years I am saddened by the fact many schools do not even teach cursive hand writing.


Aley Martin profile image

Aley Martin 5 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA Author

me too Vernpaul. How can one sign their name? Print it?

thanks for your comment!


tpneversaynever profile image

tpneversaynever 4 years ago from California

This touched me, as i am drawn to the art of writing myself. alas, that being said, I still don't do it hardly at all. I'm going to write my mother in law today because of this. Thanks!


Aley Martin profile image

Aley Martin 4 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA Author

thank you...she will love it!


Cherry 23 months ago

I've been loiknog for a post like this forever (and a day)


Margery 23 months ago

What's it take to become a sublime exuopnder of prose like yourself?


Aley Martin profile image

Aley Martin 23 months ago from Sumner, Washington,USA Author

Many thanks to both for coming by! It has been a long time since anyone graced my pages! I have been writing since I was a little girl Margery, but the clue to good writing is really lots of reading.....lots and lots of reading. I teach literature now and reading courses and writing too at the college level and this is the only thing I keep telling my students. Read and learn the beauty of words. Thanks.

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