October 23, 2010

Writing and receiving letters - real letters - not emails

SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - The mail arrived today at the post office around the corner and there, buried between political ads for California gubernatorial candidates (Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman), was a letter from my sister Anne.

A letter! And actual piece of paper, tucked neatly in a small envelope with a first class, forever stamp affixed in the corner.
A 'forever' stamp

The letter was in response to a missive I sent last week (a real letter, too), when I decided that sending electrons across cyberspace in an email to communicate was getting tiring.

Of course, writing a letter, printing it out (my handwriting is beyond atrocious), addressing an envelope and then - gasp - taking it to the post office, had its tiring moments, too. But there is something soooo satisfying about dropping a letter into the mailbox to be delivered. And it's even more satisfying when you receive a letter.

I know my granddaughters Samantha and Kami love to get mail, and from time to time, I dash off a letter, usually adding a sheet of stickers and sometimes some photos - or even toys.

My late mother wrote letters every week of her life. And at Christmas, her card list had more than 300 people - old roommates from college, relatives and professional acquaintances with whom she had become friends. Starting sometime in early November she would pen a few cards every day, sending them out with personal messages to each person, inquiring about families and health and other such things.

Not all responded, though I remember our roadside mailbox in Lakewood, New York being quite full in the spring, as people wrote her back.

For me today, the best part is holding the letter I just received, then setting it in a place of honor, from which it can be picked up and read again later. And read again.

I have a full sheet of first-class, forever stamps, waiting to be put to good use, as I type this. Perhaps it's time to leave the world of electrons and get put together another real letter.

1 comment:

slamont said...

Miguel, a fine reminder of the personal value of real letters. Then there is the matter of history. Who among us believes the cyber letters we pop off to friends will survive?
But I have the original letter written by a distant relative imprisoned in Cuba in the 1800s, and the follow-up written from Spain when he was released and exchanged. That sort of letter lives for centuries. I'd better start writing.