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Rekindling the lost art of letter writing

POSTED: January 15, 2014 3:01 p.m.
 

Do you still write letters by hand and then mail them to friends or loved ones?

If you do, you are certainly in the minority and likely are older than 50. There is something sad about that.

Gone are the days when you waited for the mailman (oops, can’t use that word anymore — it’s mail delivery person or carrier) and eagerly anticipated who you might hear from via letter.

This week is supposed to be National Letter Writing Week, but I doubt most people will do anything to celebrate that.

My mother received many letters from my father while he was fighting in the Korean War. They had dated a few times, and then dad and his best friend signed up to go to war. Mom was in college.

When he returned, it wasn’t long before he proposed and they married and began their lives together.

Hearing that my dad wrote letters to her was a surprise. He never seemed like much of a letter writer, and I can’t remember him ever writing to me, though he gave me cards on my birthday, Valentine’s day and such.

My mother recently found a letter I wrote to my father shortly after I graduated from college and was working my first real job. I don’t remember writing it, but I do remember the sentiment behind it.

I was so excited to move out of my parents’ home and into my first apartment with a young woman I went to college with.

Working — sometimes even 12 hours a day — was exciting. After a few months of barely making ends meet, I had an epiphany about my parents and how much they had done for me.

In that particular letter, I apologized to my father for not appreciating him as much as I should have. I told him I loved him and was thankful for all he had done and allowed me to do.

I really don’t remember if we had any conversation about my letter, but knowing my dad I’m guessing we didn’t.

Dad came from an era where men didn’t typically talk about their feelings — and certainly not when it came to an emotionally charged letter from a daughter.

He showed his love in many ways, but not with words or tears. Most of dad’s emotions showed toward the end of his life.

I still cry thinking of the last few years when he was able to still say grace before we broke bread together. He couldn’t get through it without tearing up and his voice cracking.

He showed a lifetime of emotion in those short prayers asking for a blessing for the food and his loved ones.

Reading that letter and thinking about my dad, makes me want to encourage parents and grandparents to write letters, even a brief note, to their children.

Reading the words your loved ones penned is something they will cherish forever.

What should you say? Tell them about your memories of their entrance into the world. Tell them about special birthdays you remember or other holiday memories.

Let them know the life lessons you’ve learned, your failures and achievements. Perhaps most importantly, tell them what you love about them and what makes them unique in your eyes.

I love reading notes my children wrote to me over the years. When they would give me them, I tried to jot the date and circumstances on the back.

When our oldest would misbehave or talk back and have to stay in his room, I always told him the price of release was a letter apologizing and telling me exactly why he was sorry and what he did wrong.

Those notes are especially cute, since his stubbornness is so evident in his apology.

I also love cards from Paul. I told him early on in our marriage that I didn’t want a store-bought card, because I wanted to read his words. After that, he created “Paulmark” cards and I’ve saved every one.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, I promise your loved ones want to read your words.

Take a moment to jot down a note or letter to those in your life who matter. For no particular reason other than to say, “I love you and want you to know why.”

I promise you will be glad you did and your loved ones will cherish your words forever.

 

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at contact@adlenrobinson.com.

 

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