Letter Writing: A lost art

This morning, while I was rummaging through some old stuff, I decided to open my box of treasures, a huge box of letters and greeting cards given to me over the years by people close to me.

While I was browsing through the older ones, I realize that I have been really lucky to be born in the era of cheap but cute stationery from Japan which encouraged my friends and I to write to each other almost every day to 1. to show off our cute notepads, and 2. to talk about teenage stuff that seem awfully funny now but meant a whole lot during those times.

I was lucky to get greeting cards on my birthday, some personal some by group, some collages and some videos that were very personal in nature, sent by post and written by hand – even if some words were not legible, it feels good to be remembered enough and regarded with that much care that people will spend time to create something special just for me.

Its always challenging to come up with something to write, especially to fill a blank piece of paper and in doing so, one really has to share something of himself in order to make the page come to life, to speak to the person he is writing to and for this, letter writing is indeed an art. Most often than not, even a simple Happy Birthday from a person you least expect to greet you becomes a big deal. It always means something. It touches the heart.

When I moved to the province after high school. It was an especially difficult time for me, living all my life in Manila and through this time, I realized that many of the letters I kept were mailed from my elementary and high school friends, asking how I was or how I was holding up. I really did not think that my friends would take the time to share with me what I’ve been missing but they did, and their words helped me find the strength to meet new people and establish new friendships. Suffice to say, that even though we are not always in touch, we don’t forget each other’s birthdays. We also touch base every now and then but every time, we catch up like we’ve never been apart.

I am quite thankful that I have kept these letters all this time, even if it takes a huge amount of space on my drawer. Reading them makes me feel closer to that time when waiting for the final bell is the best part of the day, because it meant that we would be free to hang out and tell stories, go to the mall and horse around some more. They bring me to a time when I had to wait an entire month before I got a letter from my cousin abroad and I would find in it pictures enclosed in the envelope about places she’s been and friends she met along the way.

I have been blessed with a lot of people in my life, some I have not much contact with, but these letters serve as a link to our relationship at one point in our lives and refreshes memories of school, and work, happy times, not so fun times.

I am sad that these days, because of emails and social networks, people hardly write letters to each other anymore. Worse, some bookstores don’t even have greeting card sections now which is weird. Its sad that this art of showing people your love and concern is slowly fading because of technology. People hardly write in shorthand anymore, preferring to type their messages on their keyboards and their tablets, texting on the phone and posting on facebook rather than making that extra effort to purchase that greeting card whose message reflects his feelings for you, writing a personal message and going that extra mile to go to the post office to mail it. I’m afraid that pretty soon, social networks, whose intention is actually bring people closer together will serve to deteriorate their relationships as all communication will be facilitated online.

Call me old school, but I just miss the good old days when we wrote letters. It is good that one day, when I grow old or die, I will be able to leave something behind to my children and grandchildren that will give them an insight as to how I was when I was a teenager, how I dealt with people and how they saw me. It would be nice to leave behind mementos that other people made for me, those that were sent without being prompted by birthday alerts and electronic memo pads — things that don’t have the same impact when they’re printed from the computer or posted online (even though it reaches a wider audience like this blog).

Thank you to all of my family ad friends who wrote me letters/ notes, and sent me cards throughout our relationship. I do keep them and consider them my treasures, much like I consider you all as gems of my life. You have brought me great joy and a lot of happy memories that I relive each time I read your words. I mean it from the bottom of my heart.