Coffeegirl63's Blog

Writing Letters the Old-Fashioned Way October 23, 2011

Filed under: Friends,Introspection,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 9:02 pm

I’m just curious about something and hope to hear some feedback from you. (But if I don’t get any feedback… well, you’ll see.)

Do people write personal letters any more? I do, but it seems since Facebook status and texting has taken over so many forms of communication, few people write what I think of as “real” letters any more. Before texting, people who missed each other, or just enjoyed each other’s company on a personal level, used to email each other or talk to each other on the phone. Before we had cell phones with free long distance, phone calls were usually purposeful and fairly short. In the days of expensive long-distance calls, and before that, we wrote letters using a pen and paper.

When my sister’s fiancé at the time (now husband) was in Air Force Basic Training, she wrote to him every day. She always sprayed the letter with perfume and mailed it in a purple envelope with a lipstick kiss where she sealed it closed. Every day at mail call, when the other airmen saw that purple envelope, they’d smell it as it was passed back to my brother-in-law. I think those are important memories. People always saved love letters.

Sometimes, I still write letters the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper. I just think there is something about seeing a letter mixed in with all the bills and the junk that elicits a smile. I don’t write nearly as many pen-and-paper letters as I wish I did. Most of my letter writing is in the form of personal emails.

What’s difficult is that most of the letters I write (whether pen-and-paper or email) go unanswered. Sometimes that means I just don’t get a letter back, sometimes (with email) there is a response, but not to anything I’ve said or asked. Now, I understand that I tend to be a bit “particular” (some would say peculiar) in the way I live my life. When I get an email (I can’t remember the last time I got a letter), I tend to reply item by item. It seems to me that if someone asked questions or took the time to tell me specific details about his or her life, that person would like a response on those questions/details. Am I wrong or over analyzing?

My challenge: Many times in my letter writing, I struggle with things to say. I mean, there is always something to talk about, but what do I say without asking questions, without having anything to say in response to someone else? Do you ever struggle with this? How do you handle it? Sometimes I write away ignoring that fact that there will be no reply. I ask questions. I talk about what I’ve done that day or that week. Unfortunately, that can make me feel like I’m talking to myself, and that just makes me question my sanity. Sometimes, usually just in the emails, I ask question I genuinely want, or even need, the answer to. Do I send another email with just the one question, hoping the recipient will respond?

Another question: When sending a letter or email to a loved one, what do you use for a closing? Very few people even use a closing any more. When I write to my kids, I usually sign, “I love you, Mommy” or “I love you soooooooo much, Mommy” or “I love you, Mama” or “I love you, Mama Bear.” (I know, but they’ll always be my babies, so can’t I always be their mommy, at least in writing? Anyway, they’ve never told me to knock it off.) Some emails (when writing to my boyfriend, who doesn’t live in CO), I sign, “Your… Joni” or “Missing you… Joni” or “Anticipating seeing you in however many days… Joni” or something like that. When I write notes to my parents, I usually just sign it, “Your favorite” because I know it’s true. 😉

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Do you have, or have you had, any experience with writing letters or personal emails? Do you think this post will have any influence on your future correspondence?

Please let me hear from you.

Affectionately yours,
Joni

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13 Responses to “Writing Letters the Old-Fashioned Way”

  1. Aurora, HSP Says:

    I adore old fashioned “ground mail” but it does seem a dying art. I suppose those of us who are stirred by Victoria Magazine… Tasha Tudor who lived without electricity all her life and such… As for closings, I like:
    Yours,
    Janice (Aurora)
    PS
    Thanks for the read, some of us do notice and thinking aloud is what I find blogs are all about. For me 🙂

    • coffeegirl63 Says:

      Thank you, Aurora. I really appreciate the feedback. There is definitely something about writing a real letter that feeds the tactile and old-fashioned parts of me.

      I agree that thinking aloud is what blogs are about. I enjoy reading the hearts of others. It connects us a beautiful way.

      Your new friend,
      Joni

      PS Janice is my mom’s name, and my older daughter’s name is Jeanice–a combination of Jean (my sister) and Janice.

  2. Aurora, HSP Says:

    Love the names in your family, how could I not, lol lol. Nice way you combined Jean and Janice 🙂

  3. I enjoy getting old fashioned letters too. Mostly because I know it’s going to be from an elderly relative who doesn’t have access to the Internet.
    I make a habit of two things each year:
    1- I always send my dad a handwritten letter inviting him over for Father’s Day Dinner. He only lives 20 minutes away but it makes him feel special and I enjoy doing it,
    2- I refuse to give in and write a group Christmas letter. I send a card and individualize it by asking questions and telling them about what’s going on with my family. I don’t like getting Christmas cards with just a signature inside it, it makes me want to send it back to them.
    I enjoyed reading your post 🙂

    • coffeegirl63 Says:

      Thank you, Renae. And thank you for replying. What a great idea to write your dad a letter. I’m sure he treasures them! My dad lives 40 minutes away, and sometimes I stop by their house to leave a note when I know they’re not home. But a real letter in the mail is a great idea.
      I don’t do group Christmas letters either. Christmas comes smack in the middle of my busy season at work (averaging 60 or more hours a week), and so I haven’t sent Christmas cards in years… but I keep thinking about it. Maybe if I started in September?

  4. Shannon Gale Says:

    I have one good friend that moved away a couple of years ago that has become a great pen pal. I think it’s hard sometimes to answer questions (and ask questions, for that matter) because our lives change so much faster than the speed of snail mail. What I wrote about last week or last month doesn’t necessarily apply anymore. It’s still great fun and it always puts a smile on my face to get a real letter in the mail.

    I always sign off:

    Love, Shannon

    • coffeegirl63 Says:

      Shannon,
      Thank you for commenting. That’s true–part of the challenge is that we’re so used to knowing what’s going on right now. I often wonder what they talked about when they wrote letters 150-200 years ago when we were settling America and letters took months to travel from sender to recipient. Babies were conceived and born in the round trip of a letter. Loretta and I were pen pals when we were kids, and sometimes our letters were pages long. Now when I write a letter, it’s usually on a notecard. I’m hoping I just get better/more comfortable at it, and the words will just start flowing again.
      Love, Joni

  5. Like you, I tend to answer questions in letters line by line (I’ll refrain from doing so here, since there were a good many questions in this post). 😉

    I love old fashioned letters, but don’t send any because I don’t “feel” as if anyone would really want one from me. Silly when I write it down this way, but genuine nonetheless. Honestly, my high school boyfriends were probably able to warm their hearths for years with the piles of letters I wrote back then. LOL!

    As far as signing emails goes, I take my cues from whomever I am answering. If they sign off with something, I use a similar closing line.

    Love you madly (I mean it!)
    ~Julie

    • coffeegirl63 Says:

      You never need to feel like you must refrain with me! 😉 And you can send me an old-fashioned letter any time you want. I’ll always ooh and aah over it… and reply in kind.

      Love you madly back!!
      Joni

  6. Jim Jones Says:

    I liked writing old-fashioned letters when I was in college. But not everyone that received those letters enjoyed getting them. Writing tended to access the melancholy part of my brain, an area that I don’t remember accessing that often before I started writing letters. Over time, I began to fear this part of my brain because I couldn’t control the thoughts it stirred up. I was happy when technology created communication methods that favored short responses.

    I like emails, texts and instant messenger in addition to phone calls. With the emails, texts and IM, I like how I can have a conversation with someone but if the person is interrupted by someone or something, I don’t have to wait with the phone on my ear. I have time to think about my answers and pauses don’t seem awkward. This is weird, people can interrupt me if I’m going on and on without it seeming rude.

    I do like answering emails line by line. I frequently put “Below…” at the top of my response and then insert my answers in a different color in the middle of the other person’s email. It helps provide the context for my answers. I also wonder why people don’t respond to emails or answer the questions that were asked. I don’t know if any of my close friends do that but some people I know do seem to ignore my emails or questions in my email. I do know these people are alive because they will post to their blogs.

    My father and sister hated when people included the initial email in their response. My father because he printed the emails out so that he could read them to my mom. He didn’t want to have to print out 2 pages (remember when you couldn’t just print one page of your emails in Outlook, you had to print the entire message). I always liked to have the initial email attached because I couldn’t remember what I had asked in my email. Sometimes people would answer my email without my email attached (common with AOL users) with “Yes”, “No”, “I’ve been thinking about the same thing”. I’d have to find my email to discover what they were answering. Really confusing if they forgot to answer a question.

    • coffeegirl63 Says:

      I like the simplicity of emails, texts, IM’s, and Facebook statuses. There are times that I wanted to send the letter back with the “below” method you describe, just so I didn’t have to rewrite the questions/comments to answer them. Felt like I was in school where I had to write complete sentences and essays. lol
      Phone calls are a challenge because I get distracted and run out of things to say (which I don’t understand, because that never happens in face-to-face conversations).

  7. Umbetro de'lorentice Says:

    I think writting letters is something that this world has lost. In this disprived state of axaiety we live in, everyone looks for the quick way out. So to say, instant gradifaction! I think it’s truly sweet and loving and shows you care to Acually write a letter To a friend or someone you love… It’s a sign of passion, love, and carring something we may go way to long in this world with out! In my view. It’s rustic and cultured. I believe it’s something we all should strive to do more. Who know it could never hurt… I personally love sending cards and hadwritten sentiments to my family and friends. some friends tease me because I’m a young boy 19 and have a sensitive side. But in my view its life live it your way or its no more than a cage trapping the very soul with in are hearts! Best regards to you all. Ciao


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