A letter to you from Will Jones
Remember the thrill of going to the mailbox and finding an unexpected letter from a family member or friend? Or maybe it was the letter you’d been anticipating for weeks? Remember actually seeing the mailman approach the house and sprinting to the front door expectantly? Those were exciting times. Sadly, the “art of the letter” days are all but over.
No one can deny the convenience of email, texting, skyping or just plain picking up the phone and calling. But for those of us who have lived through the transition from “snail mail” to high technology, some of the romance of communication has been lost. Not to the mention loss of personal, family, national and world history that was a by-product of good old fashioned letter writing. Adams and Jefferson! Barrett and Browning! Miller and Nin!
In an old manila envelope I have a collection of letters from the 70’s from a friend in Colorado and my from my brother who was living in Germany. In a shoe box I have letters received over a period of twenty years from a friend who moved around the country and raised a family during those years. In another box I have letters from my father, now deceased, an excellent writer with beautiful handwriting. I know it’s possible to keep a history of emails, but it isn’t the same. So what am I doing to keep the art of letter writing alive?
My first grandchild, Saskia, was born last February. I wrote her a letter and mailed it on the first day of spring. It was a letter about life and what she might expect as she grows up. Today, the first day of autumn, I wrote her a letter about writing letters and about a gift that her father, my son, gave me ten years ago. He took his brothers and me backpacking, which reawakened my love of the wilderness, and I’ve gone every year but one since then.
Spring and autumn are my two favorite seasons. My plan is to write Saskia a letter on the first day of those seasons for the rest of my life. My hope is she’ll return those letters with letters of her own when she is able and ready. In that way I hope we will grow and age together and keep the art of letter writing alive in our family for another generation.
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