Letters in the Mail

My wife got a letter in the mail today. Like, a hand-written, pen and paper, genuine letter. I sat back in my chair as she cheerily tore into it and devoured its contents. Then she said something curious, “letters in the mail are so much better because you only have so much space so you have to convey your words with precision and meaning.” Ok, she didn’t say it exactly like that, but that’s what she meant.

If you’re reading this post and you’ve met me there’s roughly a 50% chance you’ve received a note or letter from me in the mail. It would have been in all capital letters (somebody forgot to turn my internal caps lock off as a kid) and I likely would have jammed my name in the bottom right corner because I hate being confined by finite white space.

Jen’s probably right though, brief is always better than rambling (kind of makes this post ironic, huh?).

Anyway, my parents always bribed us with Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books forced us as kids to write thank you notes and letters. It made me annoyed at them (maybe it still does?) but I thank them for it now because I think it’s one of the places I developed my love for writing.

This isn’t about me though (actually, technically it is since my mug is plastered all over the pages of the URL you just typed in…but whatever). It’s about the fact that letter writing is a dying art and I want to know why.

There’s something innately mysterious about seeing your name in dried ink on the front of an envelope. It’s hard to explain. It’s kind of like the first time you go on a date with a girl or the feeling you get when you buy a book you’ve been dying for. You don’t know what the future holds but in that moment it can be anything you can imagine.

The future of letter writing though, who knows? Where’s it going? Where’s it gone? Do we not have enough time? Do we think writing on the web is better because it is, theoretically, endless? Is it too expensive?

I want your thoughts. Best theory gets a letter from me. It’ll be short. Unlike this post.

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I'm an aspiring freelance writer and blogger (which doesn't make a ton of sense when you think about it). I started a blog called Our Marriage Project and one about OSU called Pistols Firing. I love both of them, and I love my wife. And I love Kevin Durant, Explosions in the Sky, Tim Riggins, Blue Moon ale, Twitter, and the state of Georgia.

12 thoughts on “Letters in the Mail”

  1. I think the reason people don’t write letters anymore is two-fold. First off, there is no instant gratification. We live in a society of NOW and with a letter you have to wait for *gasp* three days before some one will get what you have sent them and even longer for a response. And we get annoyed if someone doesn’t text us back in 5 mins–how can we ever wait for a letter???

    Secondly, we are too busy. Too busy texting and facebooking and watching mind-numbing television shows to take the time to write a letter. And if you did take the time to write out something then you have to go and get stamps, because no one has stamps anymore. We pay our bills online, or even have our bank pay our bills, and we never even put anything in a mail box anymore (wonder why the post office is going under?). Then you have to wait in line at the post office, and we are too busy for that.

    So that is my theory, we are busy instant gratification seekers.

    I remember as a kid every single week my mother would get a letter from my grandmother. EVERY WEEK. Usually they were about nothing, but sometimes they had newspaper clippings, or funny stories. I miss seeing those letters come in the mail. Not because my grandmother has passed (Thank you Jesus) but because she stopped writing them. Now they just talk on the phone. She says her life is as interesting anymore and there is nothing to write about–so she doesn’t.

    I am going to write my grandmother a letter today! Thanks Kyle!

  2. I was actually having this discussion with my mother- in -law last week. Why is it that no one sends letters? I love getting letters and cards in the mail. If it wasn't for Netflix I probably wouldn't check my mail at all because most of it goes into the trash and the bills are already paid online.

    I still send all of my friends and family cards for occasions (and I mean every occasion). I send hand written thank you notes and when we have get togethers at our house I send out invitations. The internet is great and yes it is instant gratification but there is something so personal about the fact that someone took the time to write you, buy stamps (bc of course that isn't easy these days either) and mail you a letter.

    1. You sound like my mom (in a good way). I think she sends people cards for St. Patricks Day. She bought 10 of those USA shirts from Old Navy one year and sent them to all our relatives for Flag Day….

      For real though, keep up the good work, I know everyone you write to appreciates it.

  3. No one takes the time anymore to think about their feelings long enough to put them on paper. We are constantly in a rush to get to the next project; answer this email, check this voicemail, pay this bill. We even avoid talking on the phone anymore. We text most information back and forth, when easily, I could have called and gotten the directions.
    I send my 3 nieces a letter every month. They are 6, 4, and 18 months. The oldest can read now and I use simple phrases that she can read out loud to the others. The joy I get from hearing her voice, calling to tell me thank you for her letter, exceeds any emotion I will ever feel from a text message.
    I woke up 10 minutes early this morning to write my friend a "hello" note and put it on her windshield before work. I rarely get notes, letters, cards but that doesn't matter to me. It makes me feel good to give someone an unexpected surprise.

  4. I recently wrote letters to my interns thanking them for the best summer of my life. And it was one of the best things that I have done in a long time. I literally had to think about that intern and their qualities, their summer experiences and any funny stories that happened during the last 2 months. It was so fun and it made me remember experiences that I might have likely forgotten in all the craziness of those 2 months.

    I was completely exhausted at that point in the last week, but I got it done because I knew it would mean something to all of them. I knew that they might read something that I wrote that they never even saw within themselves. We all need encouragement and I think letters are an awesome way to do that.

    I think we all get busy, we all get tired, but mostly I think we have simply become selfish. We don't think to encourage, support and express gratitude through letters because we are so consumed with ourselves. Thank you for posting this, I will continue to write more letters and I will always love to see a handwritten note in my mailbox. It's almost like Christmas. = )

  5. I write Cards (not letters) every week to someone (usually my closest friends) because I love spending time picking out something I think will make them smile or laugh-then I like to add my own note and usually a poorly drawn cartoon of me and my dog. I probably also write cards to people so frequently because I secretly wish someone would send me one back.
    I grew up getting cards with sticks of sugar free gum and $5 dollar bills from my grandmother and grandfather every few weeks and it was a huge treat. I would chew the gum, read my card, and plan how I was going to spend my $5. I've been adding Starbucks Via packets to my cards lately. It is a nice way to buy someone a cup of coffee that lives far away!

    People who don't write letters probably never had that overwhelming warm fuzzy feeling when they got mail.

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