Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Long Lost Art of Letter Writing

Did you miss me?
Do you have letters stored in a shoebox in your attic? I bet your grandparents did.
With email, instant messaging, texting, and cell phones have you ever wondered in our busy society if we are allowed to miss each other anymore?

I go to our mailbox daily and bring in the bills and junk mail and occasional returned key from a guest who inadvertently kept it in their pocket at check out. I open up the mail box and pull out the junk. There is no joy there anymore, there are no “I miss you” cards, photos of loved ones, graduation announcements, very rarely even a thank you card.
(Friends of our family - lovely mom is expecting first child, dad is now deployed)

Allow me to reminisce for a moment. Guests, a retired Commander of War Ships and Vietnam Vet staying with us went to the National D-Day Memorial in nearby Bedford Virginia today. It is in Bedford due to this small southern town losing more boys per capita in D-Day than any other. The movie “Saving Private Ryan” was based on a book about Bedford and D-Day called “The Bedford Boys” I highly recommend this book.

Back to the whole lost art of letter writing scenario…Have you had a loved one overseas in the service? In a war, in deployment? Do you recall the ultimate lift in your spirit when you opened the mail box and saw that air mail/par avian letter sitting there? Just seeing their handwriting on the envelope put butterflies in your stomach and an ear-to-ear grin across your face.

Tony (your outside innkeeper) was in the Royal Australian Navy for 10 years. Shortly after we first were married in 1989 in Australia, he was sent off to the first Gulf Conflict. His ship HMAS Adelaide was the first to fire enemy fire in the gulf. HMAS ADELAIDE an FFG had come back to Sydney after a 2 month deployment, and I heard it on the news that his ship would refuel, restock and turn right around and head to the Gulf of Oman. I was heartbroken.
(Tony's Ship now decommissioned - HMAS ADELAIDE more on it here)

Now all of this was pre-cell phones, pre-personal computers, we owned a type writer and pen and paper, there was no way contact each other except via the regular old mail. The ship used to receive mail once a fortnight and if the sailors had a letter ready and got it out there in time it would be taken via helicopter, processed and sent our way. So when the mail eventually reached my letter box it would contain letters for the entire month, if you have a husband like Tony, that meant three or four. Your heart would race, yours hands would shake as you carefully carried them to the nearest stoop to open and absorb every word, every dot on an “i” and every cross on a “t”, then run inside for a Kleenex!

If that was you, then you would agree that you not only held the letters in your hand until the ink wore off, you also smelled the letters hoping to get a far away whiff of your loved ones. Yeah it sounds silly, but it is true!

I beseech you today, write a letter to someone you love, if nothing else, write those three little words we all long to hear “I LOVE YOU” and sign your name.



Anonymous said...

Shellie, not only am I currently in the Royal Australian Navy but my husband is ex-Royal Australian Air Force. Both of us have been deployed and every time a letter meant so much more than an email / text / Skype call.

I think it is the act of putting pen to paper and actually hand-writing one's thoughts that make it so much more meaningful for both the writer and the recipient.

And of course, it is much more comforting to lie in bed re-reading a letter over and over, as opposed to holding one's mobile phone or other electronic device re-reading that email again and again!

Thanks for the post and the reminder. I'm off to find some cards to send to my family and loved ones.

Shellie - The Innkeeper said...

Appreciate the comment PNC, thank you for your service! Well done.

Anonymous said...

I'm a letter-writing junkie and always love to see people pay some attention to it. Kudoos to you for a thoughtful post. For letter-writing fans, I pass along "The Things Unsaid Project" ( Neat stuff based in letter writing.

Keep up the good work!


Shellie - The Innkeeper said...

Now I am quite sad...look at this Send out Cards website:

They said - Why We Do It •

When was the last time you sent an unexpected card at an unexpected time to someone you care about?

Do you think it would make a difference?

Do you remember people's birthdays and other special occasions? Do you think that matters to them?

What I long for is someone to say "Miss You!" or "Love You!" in their own handwriting...I am online, I am up with technology, this makes me sad, this week is my bday, got one card in the mail from a friend. No relatives sent a card.

Is there something wrong with this? Oh maybe they will wish me a happy bday on Facebook. GOD SAVE US ALL!