Love letters straight from the heart

September 24, 2014 § 5 Comments

Sunday afternoons in the household of my childhood ran to a predictable routine. After a roast lunch and a mountain of dishes, we all settled into compulsory stillness for an hour or two.

My father would go and nap, we three children were required to go to our rooms and do something quiet, and my mother would sit at the dining room table and write to my grandmother and an assortment of other relatives and friends.

I was an erratic letter writer, but I loved to receive letters, especially from my grandmother. Her copperplate handwriting made every word seem like a celebration, and she always signed her letters off ‘with oceans of love’.

There was little to compare to the thrill of skipping down the cement pathway to the letterbox and finding a small white envelope, addressed to me, nestling among the accounts and pamphlets that demanded my parents’ attention. A letter meant someone had thought of me. Someone had taken the time to sit down and tell me a story; to weave words together, by hand, for me and me alone.

I miss the gentle art of letter writing. Sure, we have emails and text messages and social media, and they have their place, but they’re too immediate, too ethereal, here today and gone tomorrow.

A letter is something you can hold in your hand. You can fold and unfold it, smooth it out, see the faint indentations of the words on the preceding page, and the spot where the writer’s pen was being a bit scratchy or ran out completely.

A letter takes time to write. It takes effort to post: to address the envelope, place the stamp, find a post box. It takes time to arrive, which means a delicious sense of expectation if you know it’s coming, or of complete surprise if you don’t. In a world that’s all about instant gratification, that’s a rare and wonderful thing.

My daughter is away on a school camp for two weeks without her cell phone and she has no way to communicate with the family except via old-fashioned letter writing. Tomorrow the school will take delivery of letters from us and ferry them out to the camp, and I have a fat envelope of letters for her from various family members and friends, ready to be sealed and dropped off.

I am (possibly unreasonably) excited about the envelope, but to me it looks like a treasure trove of textures, handwriting, ink and words that are all there for the same purpose: to tell her we love her. No doubt they will make her cry a little, and possibly feel a bit homesick, but I also think they will affirm her, because they are a wonderful display of people making an effort, making time to do something just for her.

And that’s why I treasure the few letters I still receive; the handwritten notes and cards, even if they’re just a few words. Because they tell me that someone was thinking about me, just me, and that is a very precious thing.

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§ 5 Responses to Love letters straight from the heart

  • Ann Rundle says:

    I still have letters from my gran, mom, and dad and they are treasured possessions and memories of those who died a long while ago.

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  • I love this! And I am one of those rare few like you who miss writing and receiving letters. My older daughter lives interstate and my younger daughter will attend boarding school next year. You’ve given me wonderful ideas to start writing again. Thankyou ❤

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  • Jeremy says:

    Sent and received letters from Meg during her camp for the last 2 weeks, it was brilliant to write and to read letters on old fashioned blue airmail paper. It snot jut nostalgia but also as you described it, “the texture” and to read her handwriting. Also it took days for the letters to be come and go instead of this instant messaging demanding immediate reply. For a couple of weeks our lives just slowed down enough for us to appreciate being apart. Thanks for this Mandy

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  • mariekeates says:

    My best friend from school moved abroad and got married and we carried on a long distance friendship by letter. She said she looked forward to something from home when she missed it. I certainly looked forward to her letters. It’s a shame it’s such an unusual thing these days. There will be no more bundles of letters tied with ribbon found in attics in years to come.

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