Custard on the lost art of letter writing

Who doesn’t love a letter, I mean a proper letter not a credit card bill or something advertising loans, a letter written with time and care and even love?

My Grandma was a letter writer and being brought up (not dragged up) knowing it was the correct thing respond, I too became a letter writer! It all began in my first year at university. My Grandma would write to me at least once a week, I would pass the postroom on my way to tea and collect the letter and devour news of home with the slightly sloppy food. Grandma wrote about everything, her golf game, what she’d bought from the shops, and all the church gossip. In return I told her about lectures and the girls I lived with. After the first few terms my flatmates also looked forward to a letter from my Grandma, they would ask me to send their love in my replies!

The letter writing continued through my three years at university and then when I moved away from home at 22 the weekly letters kept on coming with all the news. I found some of these letters recently, I had a good giggle at her missing her 54th wedding anniversary to play golf (Grandpa had something nice in the fridge for tea!)  and her detailed descriptions of Grandpa’s new jackets. She went on writing to me until about three months before she died and only stopped then because the cancer had given her a stroke and she couldn’t write any longer, she dictated a few letters to Grandpa but it wasn’t the same. In one of her last letters she says she can imagine us sitting on our sofa (she had visited us in our first house a few months earlier) and I hope she still can. I have saved them all, they are a physical reminder.

In the same box of letters I found notes from friends I had left behind when I moved – the days before facebook. There were tales of boyfriends who in hindsight two became husbands, one and ex and one is an ex husband. The letters filled me in about life in BHS which I had left behind to start my career, the housemates which replaced me and my boyfriend when we moved out, my Mum sending my post on and my little sister starting university. I had a nostalgic hour or so reading these letters. I’ve saved some and binned some and I hope to find them again in 10 years time.

About the same time my oldest friend started working on cruise ships, he would send me bundles of postcards from cities he visited across the world. I have them all in a folder, places I would love to go and his reviews of them and his life. I hope one day to share them with his little family and they can see what he was up to!

But the passing of my Grandmother and the invention of facebook has not stopped my love of letters. I write regularly to my grandfather – usually postcards to keep him in touch with my adventures, in much bigger writing these days so he can see it. I send funny cards to my sister and she replies. I also write and receive postcards from my God-daughter and her family about their adventures. I love to come home and see a postcard on the mat. I keep them all.

I would urge you to pick up a pen and write a letter to someone, tell them what you did today, or just tell them you are thinking of them. They will get a great surprise when it drops through their letter box next week, then hopefully you will get a reply and then you will reply…

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