Letters

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? Not an email, an instant message, or a text, but a letter? Not a “Sympathy Card” or a “Get Well Card,” but an actual letter?  You know how they go: How are you doing? Here is what I’ve been doing, saying, dreaming, or thinking?

Do you remember being young enough to be excited when mail came? Before the box was filled with bills and appointment reminders, I remember getting notes from my grandmother or my pen pal. I remember being excited when a piece of mail came to the house in MY name!

Writing Letters is [almost] a lost art in our society.

I’ve had the opportunity to rediscover the lost art of writing letters this summer, along with thousands of others who have young men and women training to serve our country in the military. Technology impacts our lives daily, but the military strips it down to the basics when grooming young people to serve our country. Initial training involves separation physically from family and friends, as it always has. Now, it also involves removal of electronics so trainees can focus on their mission.

For the first time in some of their young lives, the new inductees in the military are unable to utilize cell phones, computers and other electronic devices for communication. Plunged into a new world and cut off from these things, they have taken to pen and paper like the generations before them. In the same way, their families can only communicate through letters. So, a whole new generation is learning how to write, address, and mail letters, then experience the anticipation, frustration, and joy while waiting for a reply.

Letters are so unique and so personal. Without emojis and built-in auto correct to tell us what to write, they wind their way through our thoughts and emotions. They sometimes have themes, but other times are random collections of thoughts and half-baked ideas. Some days the pen seems to have a mind of its own and you can’t get the words on the page fast enough. Other days, “Dear ____” is the only thing that comes to mind.

I’m grateful for this journey–watching my son’s letters develop from the equivalent of long text messages to missives with themes and and messages. I won’t tell him it’s developed his writing abilities this summer, but I think he will be pleasantly surprised with an improvement in his writing grades. Maybe he didn’t practice writing essays with three points, but he has honed his ability to say what he meant clearly and concisely.

It’s been fun to see his thought processes develop and his ability to convey his feelings improve this summer. I’ve missed him while he’s been gone and look forward to seeing him again, but I hope I’ll still get letters from him occasionally. I intend to write more letters by hand to him and to others.

Just for fun, write a letter! Write a letter to a friend you haven’t seen in a while–or to one you’ll see tomorrow. Some of our best thoughts appear on the written page, but if you don’t write, they stay hidden.

Happy Letter Writing….

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