I went to the mailbox today. It isn’t much fun going there anymore. Why, you ask? Well, because I got an ad, a stock report, a newsletter from the school district and a mailer for someone who used to live at this address. No letters for me. Nothing personal just for me. Do you remember letters? Before Christmas letters that brag about each member of the family, people used to actually talk to one another via letters. Letters could be from family or friends, but they told more than just what the person had done; they delved deeper into how they were feeling and what meant a lot to them and what their hopes and dreams might be. Letters used to send the heart of one person on to another. It used to be fun going to the mailbox.
Over the centuries letters have helped us understand great and mighty people. The collected letters of Jane Austen are a museum piece and they help us understand who she was and why she wrote. The artist Vermeer chose as his subjects those writing and receiving letters as in Girl Reading Letter at Open Window and A Lady Writing. The letters of Albert Einstein to then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt captured the thoughts and desires of a great and gifted man who had an important platform from which to speak to another man of power.
In the Victorian era letters took on the guise of art itself. They were amply illustrated and at times contained secret messages. They were pin pricked with designs and sealed with colored wax. They were works of art. The journals of women traveling the long and dangerous trail from Missouri to the far-off and unexplored Oregon Territory, the pioneer women who lost family members and possessions along the way, wrote their stories day by day for later generations to read and remember. And letters written by soldiers in countless wars and sent home to families and sweethearts have broken our hearts with their simplicity.
Everyone loves to get a letter. Recently I wrote a letter to each of my grandchildren and took the time to add illustrations about the things I wrote to them. The letters may end up in the trash or maybe they’ll be kept on the wall or refrigerator for a while, or maybe they will be kept and treasured for years to come as a symbol of a loving relationship. There are pen pal letters, circular letters that travel around from person to person and back home again. There are love letters and condolence letters. Wouldn’t you like to write a letter to someone you love, or someone you would like to know better? Better yet, wouldn’t you love to anticipate the mailman’s arrival because there just might be a letter in the box for you?
For a little inspiration in writing letters and making them special take a look at these suggestions from Ask Granny:
http://www.ghh.com/elf/ (making unique folded envelopes)