Letters, letters, letters


I saw this picture on my sister’s Facebook feed a few days ago.

I found it amusing…

It reminded me that yes, I haven’t written or received a ‘proper’ handwritten letter for many years now and that my phone tells me that I have over 9000 unread emails!

It got me thinking about who I used to write to and who wrote to me. I struggled…

At school my best friend was a lovely girl called HC and I remember writing letters and sending little gifts to her. What did I write in those letters? I cannot really remember – this was over 30 years ago – but I think I wrote about I thought she was a great person.

I once had a good German friend, a doctor I met during my first and rather stressful house officer post. After that six month secondment we kept in touch by writing long letters to each other. He had moved to Mongolia and then Australia. Then e-mails became more common use and we would then write long and rambling e-mails to each other. That has now stopped at least from my end. I got tired of writing e-mails for which there was no response. I have kept the old letters in a box in a cupboard high up in my spare room. In times of sentimentality – I will climb on a chair and open the cupboard, read the old letters and wonder at the person that I used to be!

The last letter I wrote was part of a Church based activity. I was part of a group that met every Tuesday evening to share the Word of God and I my turn came for the Witness for the week. I thought it would be good to write a letter to some people in our Church blessing them with words of scripture and encouragement. It went down very well, I think. I sent a few. I hoped it would spark of a trend of people communicating better with other. It may have done but I know that I never received a single letter from my fellow Church members. About a year later though – I did receive a lovely card from one woman who I had been friends with. This was after she had e-mailed me about my lack of attendance in Church. I wrote back telling her that it was due to a variety of factors but that I might return one day. I found the card she sent me encouraging. I have been back to Church on a few occasions and it has been an ‘interesting’ experience.

I feel bad that now I do not even seem to have the time to send birthday cards and other celebratory greeting cards. I have at the moment two such cards in my work bag waiting to be filled in and posted, for over a month now. A birthday card for a good friend and another card for another friend who has just had a baby. It’s not like I do not posses any postage stamps (expensive though they are!). Instead I think I have been lulled into a false sense of non-urgency because of my ability to send text messages and post Facebook messages and pictures at the appropriate time. I do not even send postcards anymore! And that, for me, used to be the big thing about going on holiday. Finding the perfect pictures and writing as small and as legibly as possible on the back, in the evenings after a day filled with adventure. Now – I post my best ‘works of art’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I suppose it is not a terrible thing, this is the 21st century after all and this is what we do. In the time it takes to write a letter, post it and receive it – one can have send multiple messages and e-mails and received a response. We can access messages and information on the go, anytime anywhere. I might also add – I have not received any postcards from friends for years either, so I will try not to feel too guilty!

So am I going to start writing profuse and profound letters to all my friends across the globe? Unlikely…for many people all I have is an e-mail address for contact. For the people whose addresses that I have stored away in my phone ( I am not sure where my last ‘proper’ address book is hiding) I am more likely to visit them or talk on the phone. Who could/would I write to and what would I say that I could not say over the phone, over a cup of hot chocolate or over the internet? Part of the reason I started this blog over a year ago was because I felt that I did not have people to write to and I wanted to write and share things with ‘people’.

However, a new plan is formulating in my mind…

I have a stack of envelopes at home and unused postage stamps and I think I might spend one evening a week, just writing to my friends an appreciation letter – of friendship through good times and ‘shaky’ times. Perhaps too ‘cheesy’ but I cannot think of anything else relevant I could write in this fast paced age of communication. And I would like to acknowledge that I take their friendships seriously. Perhaps I ought to write to my parents and siblings too…? I somehow suspect all this letter writing will be much harder than writing an e-mail.

We shall see, we shall see, I am sure the art of letter writing is far from over yet.

Watch this space.


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