I found myself in Wal-Mart over the weekend, with my usual grocery list. But the really great thing (and likely my downfall) about Wal-Mart, is that you’re not just limited to Eggs and Cottage Cheese. Shopping at Wal-Mart is all about 1-stop shopping. However, it is my intent to stick to the list, so as to stay on task, and within my budget. I have no idea HOW those Sun Chips jumped into my cart.
I decided to splurge on two sets of stationary for my girls. They are studying proper friendly and business letter techniques in English, and I thought that if I got them some pretty stationary, it would make the task of learning all about the heading, body, and closing of a letter all that more attractive.
I searched in all the usual places. Places that sort of made sense. I perused the office supplies aisle, the party supplies aisle, and CLEARANCE (for good measure). Nothing. Finally I found two clerks chatting and I asked them where I could find Stationary. They looked at me as though I had two heads. One of them finally blinked and said, OH Stationary. We haven’t carried that for about two years.
Yeah. No one writes letters anymore.
And it occurred to me that she was likely right. I know that I even stopped sending out Christmas letters, ever since Fiddledaddy set me up with this here blog and all. All of my correspondence is done through e-mail. Or FaceBook. Or yelling out the front door.
I began to think about the art of letter writing. The only way I was able to correspond with far away friends in my youth, as we kept moving around the country, was through letters. I’m sure that at one point I kept up with no fewer than 10 friends, exchanging harrowing details of puberty and those awkward teenage years. I had a cabinet stocked full of pretty stationary that I regularly used for my letter writing. Oh. And one lovely purple pen, replete with a purple feather on top.
This was of course before the invention of the internet. And electric hair straighteners. In other words, the dark ages.
I have boxes and boxes of those letters from childhood friends high up in the closet of my old bedroom in my dad’s house. One of those dear childhood friends lost her battle with cancer about 11 years ago. She and I began writing to one another when we were about 12, after I moved away, and we continued writing up until she died, some 27 years later. During that time, she married young and had two beautiful boys. I followed her life through a painful divorce, single motherhood, a remarriage, and finally her brave fight with a disease that eventually took her life.
It is my intention that the upon my next visit home, I’m going to retrieve those letters and send them to her boys, who are now grown men. They will likely get some insight to a side of their mom they never were able to witness.
My mother and grandmother were fantastic letter writers. I have boxes filled with letters that they both kept, spanning 30 years or so. Neither of them adhered to the proper rules of friendly letter writing, by including a date. Or writing LEGIBLY, for that matter. So I have been able to keep track of a time line only because they both kept the letters in the original envelopes.
This was a letter that I recently deciphered, written by my grandmother to my mother, as Nanny took care of a 2 year old me when my mother was too sick to care for me. They lived about an hour away from one another, and they still wrote to one another daily. As I read my grandmother’s letters, I can actually hear her voice, as she wrote very much like she spoke. If it’s possible to write with a strong southern twang, she did it. She always wrote in pencil, on lined paper, and left absolutely no available white space on her letters. These letters are all precious to me. And I’m certain that I will also keep them for my own children.
Much to my non-packrat husband’s chagrin.
I am not giving up. I’m going to hunt down the elusive stationary at either Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or even Office Depot. My children will need to learn the art of letter writing, for there are many many future thank you notes to write, AHG pen-pal letters to exchange, and the requisite “I’m sorry for everything I ever put you through” letters of apology that I expect to receive in my old age.
Are you all letter writers, or have you succumbed, like me, to the ease of technology?