The Joy of Letters

This week, the week before Christmas, I received four letters, hand-written, tucked into Christmas cards and started out very personal: “Dear Gail.” They were wonderful surprises, and also a bit mind boggling because letter writing is a lost art. I noticed that I didn’t give a hangnail about the cards in the envelopes but read and re-read the letters.

People used to write letters all the time, creating masterpieces of literature, their inner thoughts about life and such. People romanced through letters—love letters—expressing their love for their spouses (or sometimes not a spouse). Sometimes they were secret letters, evidence of trysts, such as those written by Robert James Waller in The Bridges of Madison County. Tom wrote me every day while he was in Vietnam, and I got them in chunks because Marine Corps mail service went out only once a week, but he wrote the letters anyway. I have some, but not all of them, which will give our children and grandchildren something to roll their eyes at when I die.

Before the days of computers, which were invented to give us more leisure time, (although I could take issue with that!) people spent more time generating thoughts, searching for the perfect word. Is he wonderful or amazing or fantastic? Or a cluck, a duck, or a….? You get the idea.

My grandmother was the queen of letter writing. She had fifteen grandchildren and another dozen or so great-grandchildren and set aside time every week to write letters. She always put a dollar in the envelope as incentive to read it, but also expected we would write her back, thanking her for her contribution to our well-being. Her Christmas present to me when I was in college was a $5.00 roll of stamps (100 of them). Talk about subtle.

Now, we can dash off a note by email, quick and dirty, and be done with it. Email is handy and dandy, but letters are…what’s the right word?...forever.


From Gail: I am taking a little vacation (yes, I’ll wear my mask, shield, goggles, and whatever else I need) and will restart Wrinkly Bits after New Year’s Day. Enjoy this holy day and have a safe and happy new year. Get out of our way 2020. 2021 is here with a positive attitude and raring to go.

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