Email is all fine and dandy, but there is something sort of exciting about getting a letter in ye ole snail mail. I like holding the envelope in my hand and just looking at it for a moment. Then I open it very carefully, so I don’t damage the envelope…in case it’s a keeper, because I actually have a Memory Box where I store special letters and cards I’ve gotten over the years.
I got a three-page letter from my friend Kay about ten years ago when she was living in Russia that was so special I actually pondered framing it. She told me about how she was cooking pastries in her little oven at home and then taking them out into the cold streets to sell them. She was a missionary over there and that’s how she was earning extra money for the things she needed. That letter was brimming with Kay’s personality and interesting details about her life! If it had been in an email it wouldn’t have had the character of her handwriting, the paper she wrote it on, or the envelope!
I happen to think that people still like getting letters in the mail…and Christmas cards prove my theory, because most people love getting them! Heck, they even like getting them if the person just signed their name and put no note inside! So it must be that it makes them feel remembered and cared for, and in this frenzied million-miles-an-hour world it’s nice to think that someone “took a moment” out for you.
Several years ago I was part of a prayer-gram ministry at the Oasis Christian Church. Prayer grams were little letters we (on the team) would send out to those we had prayed for. What we’d do is take the prayer requests, divide them up amongst us, pray over each one in our own time, and write to the person whatever we felt God wanted us to say. One day while at church a gal walked up to me and said, “You know I received a prayer gram from you quite a while ago, but I still carry it in my purse to encourage me.” I also had a gentleman walk up to me at another time and pull the prayer gram I wrote to him out of his wallet. He said that he just wanted to thank me and that the words in that letter really got him over some major humps.
Because we are a techno-savvy society, we forget that we’re still human, and that the human heart has not changed! Our hearts remain just as they were before the Industrial Revolution, iPods, and email. We want to be thought of, we want to be loved, we want to know that we matter to someone.
I would love to see a fresh insurgence of people going back to writing letters, I think it would make a huge difference in civility and sensibilities, and in fact, I am all for turning back the clock to a more simpler time. Maybe that’s why people love retro things, it connects them with a time that went at a slower pace. A era when people stopped, listened, and took time to find out what was going on in their fellow man’s life.
When the mail service first started (thank you Ben Franklin, our first Post Master), it was for the sole purpose of transmitting news in a more efficient way across the miles. Of course it also served to help those who were distanced by miles (families or sweethearts). It wasn’t about bills, advertisements, or cataloges. It was about keeping people informed of important things, and keeping families in-touch.
Loved ones were sending letters to say, “I miss you.” “I love you.” “Wish you weren’t so far away!” Plus they were able to express things in letters that they perhaps couldn’t in person…conveying deeper feelings and emotions without fear of looking foolish. When the mail service was started there was no other means of communicating but the written word…that was all they had, and whether we know it or not, it stills feels darned good to get a letter, it’s just that people have forgotten how good it feels, which is why most people don’t send letters any more.
I don’t know if it’s a mystery, but it must be, because receiving a letter in the mail feels better than receiving an email. So I say, “Bump Email! Write a letter and send it snail mail! Do it today, or write yourself a note to do it later. But whatever you do…DO IT! You’ll be surprised by what you feel during the experience, and even more surprised at the response you get from the one you send it to!
Copyright 2010 Gloria Jean Dewitt
If you are someone who loves history and interesting people, then you will love the book Ben Franklin’s Almanac, Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman’s Life by Candace Fleming! I own this book and have read it a number of times…each time I pick it up it’s like a fresh read!