Do you write letters?
I feel sorry for those who don’t know the joy of writing and receiving a personal letter. They don’t know what they are missing. In today’s world of efficiency and productivity, a hand written letter is undervalued. Why put all that time into something that only ONE person will ever read? is the mindset.
We’re bracing for a huge blizzard today here, and while I planned ahead for food for my family, books to read, and games to play with my kids, on the top of my list is letter writing.
This article in the WSJ about schools who plan to stop teaching cursive script handwriting just plain made me sad. “What child really needs to know cursive?” they argue. “What they need in today’s world is word processing skills!”
I disagree. Children who are raised in an atmosphere of computers need the handwritten word more than ever. Education is not merely about skills needed to produce and be productive. Education should also include art skills, like beautiful handwriting, painting, music and drama because these are the things that touch souls and promote relationships. I rarely read and re-read a typed email, but I will return to a letter or glance at its beautiful script several times.
I have written letters all my life. When Peter and I were separated during our college years we communicated through letters every day. Not only did I read and re-read his letters, I could tell a lot by his handwriting, whether he was busy, relaxed, stressed, or anxious. Letter writing is more personal, and you can say things more thoroughly in a letter than you could say face to face. I’ve written to a dear friend for over 15 years, and although we’ve never met, her words of wisdom guided much of my homeschool experience. Her handwriting was a gift to me.
Edith Schaeffer in The Hidden Art of Homemaking encourages women to not only write letters, but to embellish them with artwork to add intimacy, warmth and personality to a letter.
Some of her wisdom:
“If writing is your buried art form, disinter it and develop it. Hidden art in the area of writing can be developed in a practical way for the fulfilment of the writer and for the enjoyment and enrichment of the lives of family, friends, and casual contacts. Writing for enjoyment of expression, like music and art, does not need an audience of more than one.”
“You are writing a letter to a friend, your fiancee, your husband or wife, your children…but if you express yourself or your mood better with a sketch than in words, you sketch at the top of the page, or intersperse writing with sketches. They can be beautiful, serious or amusing. You have made the letter more interesting and more communicative.”
“If it is time for a card, do not simply buy a card but sketch one, paint one, or paint a whole booklet to commemorate a big occasion. While this is an outlet, it is also something which develops human relationships on a real and human level, rather than an artificial and plastic one.”
“Write without ambitious pride, which makes you feel it is a ‘waste’ to write what will never be published. Write to communicate with someone, even if it is literally only one person. It is not a waste to write beautiful prose or poetry for one person’s eyes alone!”
“If you are a parent with a children away from you for some reason or another-write, write, WRITE. Home is made up of communication and growing relationships. If you havent the daily possibility of preparing artistic and delicious meals for your children…if your children are in boarding school because that is the custom of your society, if your kind of work transplants you into a foreign country, writing frequent and adequate letters is imperative, whether or not you have a talent for writing!”
“You are making lunches for your children to carry to school or your husband takes a lunch with him to work–why not make the lunches communicate more than just the originality and deliciousness of the content, by slipping in some surprise communication in writing?”
“If you have an important letter it can go under the pillow to be read at bedtime when it is found just as the person is climbing in, before the light goes out.”
Don’t know when to write? Here are a few suggestions:
- When someone pays you a small kindness, gives you a gift, or encourages you and you wish to thank them.
- When a child goes off to summer camp, hide a few letters in his luggage to be found during their week away.
- When someone has a sickness, long-term illness, long-term rehabilitation or there has been a death in the family.
- When children are away from home or in college.
- When someone is discouraged and needs a kind word. If a child has had a particularly trying day or an mountain-top monumental day, a note on their pillow is a welcomed surprise.
- When you’ve noticed someone seems a little down, and you want to encourage them.
- When you want to invest in a relationship and get to know someone more intimately.
Tips to make letter writing more enjoyable:
Practice your own handwriting. I know this seems a little second-gradish, but handwriting is an art form that needs practice. I ordered the Spencerian Penmanship Handwriting Course years ago and still enjoy practicing this old school method.
It looks overwhelming at first, until you realize that it teaches only 7 strokes that you need to know to form each lowercase letter. There are four additional strokes used for uppercase. That’s it. The rest is practice putting the strokes together. You can find a downloadable copy of an old Spencerian manual here. Don’t be overwhelmed by the front matter. Skip ahead to the first few lessons and analyze how each letter is made, and it will give you the courage to try it.
What do you say? Is handwriting a lost art in today’s world? Do you re-read hand written letters? Do you think that teaching kids to write cursive is a low on the totem pole priority in today’s world? Let’s talk about it in the comments!*This post contains my Amazon Affiliate links. When you use these links, it helps my family and this blog. Thank you!