Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lost Art

The other day Mr. Chick and I received a letter - an actual, hand-written letter - from his Great Aunt. Just out of the blue she wrote a letter to us, for the first time. It was very unexpected and surprisingly fun to receive. It's not often anymore, in this age of electronic technology (e-mail, IM, text messaging, etc), to find a bona fide letter in your mailbox. And not even one that had been typed on a computer and printed out. But one that was painstakingly hand-written. Letter writing is truly a lost art. One that I'm sad to see go out of fashion.

The woman who wrote this letter to us is 88 years old. Her penmanship is a little shakey these days. But you can tell that it was once lovely. Mr. Chick's grandmother has a similar style of penmanship. Very even and precise and pretty to look at. I have always had a "thing" for nice penmanship. I worked very hard as a girl to perfect my "cursive" writing. I insisted on the slant of my letters being exactly the same. I was taught by nuns at this point, and my teacher would actually use a red pen and draw slash lines through each letter to see if they were parallel. I have always liked to write (hence this blog?) and I think writing a good letter by hand is a very cool thing indeed. Maybe that's why I enjoy doing calligraphy, too. I've done calligraphy for several friends and family members wedding invitations. A labor of love if there ever was one.

I've mentioned before how important I believe appropriate thank you letters to be. Well, I'm finding that the concept also applies to replying to letters. Because to me? Taking the time to write a hand-written letter IS a gift. And so this morning, in the midst of breakfast chaos and between household chores, I sat down and wrote a letter back. By hand. On paper that is unlined. In cursive. And you know what? I enjoyed it! I don't know this Great Aunt very well, but I know her to be a lovely person. She has a huge family and sits proudly as it's matriarch. We are distant relatives, and me only by marriage. But she took the time to write to me, so I took the time to write to her. It only took 20 minutes to my time, but I know she'll appreciate it. I didn't have terribly much to say, but I responded to the things she wrote about in her letter to us. And yet I was able to fill 2 pages. As I addressed the envelope and put the stamp(s) on (darn postage rate increase!), I had a smile on my face. I enjoyed writing that letter to her almost as much as I enjoyed receiving the one she sent me.

If you have a spare couple of minute this weekend I urge you to write a letter. It's good for your soul. Mail a letter to a long-lost friend. Or distant family member. Or even your mother. But do it the way it used to be done. It will be appreciated - I guarantee it.

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