Monday, June 28, 2010

Precious Letters

I finally cleaned off my desk this evening (and if you were a paper product, you would be singing the Hallelujah Chorus right now). I hadn't really touched the piles since Christmas, and while I can't believe that I just admitted such a thing in public, I rather enjoyed having such a large and diverse pile to sift through all at once. It was very interesting to see what things were commanding my attention six months ago.

One thing that I found a lot of were letters and postcards. I prefer to keep in touch with people via paper product much more than email. It connects me to another time, the way things were throughout human history up until about 40 years ago. Anne of Green Gables wrote letters, as did the March sisters; men at war, students travelling or away at school, immigrants trying to make a new life in America, everyone wrote letters.

I enjoy everything about the letter-writing and -receiving process. I take my time selecting the color and design of the stationery I want to use, as well as the pen. I jot down the things that I want to include in the letter so that I don't forget anything and I can give my thoughts a bit of organization. I make sure I have a solid hour to write; a letter of 2-4 pages usually takes me that long though I'm not sure why, and I want to make sure that my train of thought has minimal chance of getting derailed partway through. I date my letters and sign them, and I mail them as soon as possible.

They usually take a couple of weeks to reach their destination (thanks to Canada Post: another entry for another time). I like to think about when the person will be getting their letter and what their reaction will be. And to me, there's nothing more exciting than opening my mailbox and receiving a piece of mail with a handwritten address. Something that's not bills or ads. Yes, I realize I just made myself sound like a grouchy 40-year-old. If you're going to read this blog, you should probably get used to that. But I digress. It's exciting to tear open the top of the envelope; even when I try, I can never do it neatly. I'm always smiling and often laughing when I read through the letter. I like to keep it on the side of my desk (hence the six-month-old pile from today) so that I can glance over it and re-read it whenever I need a pick-me-up.

And the best part is, because mail takes a couple of weeks to reach the person, there's plenty of time for new things to happen so you'll have plenty to write in your next letter. And if you don't respond immediately - I often wait a month or so in between writing - the person won't care and may not even notice. So much better then email, where if you go for more than 24 hours without responding you feel obliged to apologize for the delay, and if you are the one waiting for a response, you start to envision all sorts of scenarios that would explain why it's been 6 hours and you still have no reply (Maybe they're not at work today. Maybe they're ignoring me. Maybe they've been kidnapped. Maybe they took all of their friends on a Caribbean cruise to an island without internet and they didn't invite me! Maybe... etc. etc.).

To sum up (since I used to teach 8th grade and I've found that no one remembers what you spent the last hour teaching them unless you include a summary right at the end), I like letters because I am neurotic and I have a very large paper collection in my top drawer. The end.

No comments:

Post a Comment