In praise of letter writing

My only sister – and of course, my favourite sister! – has reminded me of the joy of receiving a letter in the mail.

Before I expand on her recent letters, I want to share a little more about Susan, who resides with her husband in rural Alberta. Over the course of her many years living in the wild rose country, our communication has mostly been through the telephone plus, of course, cards at Christmas and birthdays.

I consider her old school – that’s as far as I’ll go – when it comes to the Internet. She’s more comfortable picking up the phone than clicking on Outlook to send me an email. I was perfectly happy with the phone calls as it provided ample time to catch up; however, I often teased her about not keeping up with technology and the Internet.

Well, she shocked me a few years back, when, out of nowhere, she sent a text to my phone. This proved to be another great opportunity to stay connected with my sister.

Well, she surprised me again a few months ago, when I received from her a letter in the mail. At first, I thought it might be bad news that she only wanted to share on paper instead over the phone.

It was all good news. She just felt the urge to write me a letter. Susan learned calligraphy many years ago so her letters are not only extremely neat and legible; they really are a prolific piece of art. I really enjoyed reading her letter and felt a stronger connection than via an email or text.

Of course, I also enjoyed examining the stamps she used for postage.

Well, a few weeks ago, another letter followed. Again, the topics were family in nature and entertaining. I treasured the letters, and have read them more than once. And, just as important, when I receive a letter from my sister, instead of reading it at my desk like I do with emails, I find myself on the sofa, taking time to absorb every word and sharing the details with my wife. It’s a relaxing and enlightening moment.

“We are more expressive when we write a letter compared to an email or txt (sic) where we just want to take short cuts, we try not to make spelling mistakes when we write, we usually take pride in our hand writing & we all want our letters to look & sometimes feel special to the receiver, a hint of perfume, a photo, a favourite flower petal. We usually just make more of an effort,” writes Richard Simpkin, founder of World Letter Writing Day (WLWD).

WLWD is a great idea. It falls on Sept. 1. Personally, I would prefer it falling on a school day so we can urge our children to write a letter and, yes, use postage stamps to mail it. What a great learning opportunity. Perhaps it’s an idea that The Royal Philatelic Society of Canada, Canadian Stamp News, Canada Post and other organizations can join forces to develop in Canada.

Meanwhile, make a commitment this week to set aside some time to write a letter to a family member or friend, and make it intriguing by adding an artful mixture of Canadian stamps. You will certainly get their interest and, hopefully, encourage them to do the same. I know I will. 

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