For the love of the written word

My Letters & Love Letters

In my youth (which wasn’t too long ago, mind you), I loved to meet different people through snail mail.  Yes – I have to admit – I had pen pals from different parts of the world, friends I met in school, ballet, and elsewhere.  My father was my earliest pen friend because he was away for most of the time and worked overseas.  My earliest memory writing to him was when I was 4 years old.  Mother would write to my dad regularly, and for on that particular occasion I wanted to write to my dad to convey to him my wish list for Christmas.  With stubby little fingers, I wrote to my father, asking him if he could buy me an Etch-a-Sketch but that I “hafta” (have to) go because I still had to do my “assayment” (assignment).

Fast forward, I learned to write letters to friends.  My summers were usually occupied with whole-day ballet classes, and the friends I met during the summer I would eventually exchange letters with after the recitals.  Most of the time, these friends often wrote back.  One can only imagine how the number of letters I received during the year!  Later though, my pen friends would eventually lost the time to write and ultimately lose touch.  By then, I would meet another batch of friends to correspond with.

After so many years of writing back and forth, I had accumulated a huge suitcase full of correspondences – letters from classmates and friends, which eventually progressed to admirers.  By high school, I had suitors who wrote short notes conveying affection.  Not all of them wrote well, but to the ones who did, I enjoyed receiving from them even more.  Besides looking at the beauty of scribbled letters, I loved reading their expressed thoughts and exchange these with mine.  It almost seemed like talking to the sender on the phone, except you couldn’t hear the other person’s voice.  I could almost feel sadness or joy in the way the words were written or phrased.  That was the thrill that a hand-written letter gave me.

When I got married, I left behind the suitcase behind to my father-in-law but kept a handful of letters which I treasure the most – among them hubby’s (he kept me in stitches with his jokes!) and another dear friend.  What’s an SMS message versus a carefully crafted and thought of letter?  BAR NONE!!!

Studying away from home during college gave me another wave of letters to family and friends.  My mother was a diligent letter writer, and her letters would be filled with motherly concern and advice.  I had high school friends who also kept in touch with me through the snail mail.  I remember my pigeon hole at the dorm was always stocked with envelopes from pen pals.  Imagine how I had to budget my allowance between school projects, food, and postage!  Does anybody realize how technology has made my life better?

I had a lot of letters from friends – postcards, birthday cards, love letters, ANY!

Letter writing led me to love writing short pieces.  It made me conscious of grammar, spelling, synonyms and antonyms.  It led me to learn and appreciate the art of writing and reading literature.  I cannot say I am a better person for it, but I guarantee you it does pay off in the end.  Believe me.

What am I driving at?  It pays to write well, and the efforts of writing letters or notes never fail to touch the heart of a receiver.  It is always sincere because of the effort that goes into it.  So guys, a friendly advice:  If you want to impress, go on and be corny and write.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  You don’t need a letter wardrobe to write.  And it certainly doesn’t have to be lengthy and verbose.  All it needs is that the words must come from the heart.   And that’s where everything starts.

I shudder to think what has become of my letter-filled suitcase, and neither do I want to know its whereabouts at this point.  I just hope that the person who was able to get it took time to open the contents and enjoy the communication I’ve had with friends over the years.  At this day and age where writing long hand is a rarity, I am missing this lost past time of mine.


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