The Lost Art of Writing Letters

While packing for a big move is generally one giant hassle, I have to admit that I actually love getting rid of all the stuff I really don’t need.

I’ve never been a pack rat by nature, and clutter drives me absolutely nuts, so any opportunity to streamline our stash (especially after four years in the same apartment) is always welcome.

But in all my overzealous fits of throwing junk away over the years, I’ve always held on to an unobtrusive, medium-sized box of letters and cards that have really meant something to me.

With Will starting his new job three weeks ago, I’ve spent quite a bit of time by myself in this ol’ apartment. And while I’ve never been the girl who always needs someone around, (I’m pretty good at keeping myself entertained most of the time, thanks to a plethora of books, DVDs, and well, freelance work), those letters felt like old friends when I found them again.

Nestled inside were a couple of notes my dad had written me—one congratulating me on qualifying for the junior high spelling bee, another penned in his gorgeous handwriting (definitely not the norm for most guys) with a simple “I love you.”

In between all the little scraps of paper and smaller note cards were a plethora of birthday wishes from dear friends like Tracey Bumpus, Jazzy Jess Dumoulin, Janet Chismar and Suzie Walter—some adorned with glitter (my signature look for the bulk of my Nashville era), others featuring very tan, very buff cowboys (a very funny reminder of my single days, courtesy of Ms. Chismar). A couple of my favorites were humorous cards from my brother, Casey, who at one time, always signed his cards “Your Brother Casey”—as if I’d forgotten my one and only brother. :)

And then, there were the letters—piles and piles of letters from people who’d taken the time to let me know they cared by simply writing. Some were from my Mom, detailing the day-to-day happenings since she made the move from our childhood home in Ladysmith to Colorado Springs. Others were from my pal Krista Bergstrom, assuring me that God really did have good things in store when I was discouraged and not quite so sure.

Once again, I also felt blessed to have such a witty, wonderful hubby. Can I just say it’s incredible being married to a fellow writer? Not only did his musings make me laugh (and tear up) all over again, but they would probably, on occasion, jumpstart a cynical person’s gag reflex because they’re so darn sweet. I’m thinking Romeo could’ve even learned a few things from Will…

You know who else writes a really good letter? My friend Melissa Riddle. Not only are the cards themselves truly one of a kind, but when I re-read what she wrote before Will and I moved from Nashville to St. Paul, it really encouraged me as Will and I are about to embark on another new season.

After reading Melissa’s cards, my tears really kicked into full force when I saw the sizable stack from my sister, Lindsey. Scrawled in her trademark bubbly style that’s practically a cousin to my own, I’d forgotten just how much we’d written to each other over the years. While sipping a tall glass of lemonade, I can’t tell you how much fun it was to relive her semester spent in Europe (all written on incredibly scenic postcards), to read about all the joys (and drama) of her high school and Bethel University years and to hear about the new joys of life since she married her hubby, Shayne and became a Mama to the sweetest little muffin ever, Miss Adelyn Grace.

Even though we’re eight years apart in actual age, you never would’ve guessed it from reading, and her thoughtfulness was yet another reminder of how thankful I am to have her in my life.

I must say…sorting through the box was not only a fantastic trip down Memory Lane, but a reminder of how much I love letters (writing, receiving them and otherwise). While e-mails and text messages are definitely faster (and necessary) in our time-challenged world, there’s something truly special about hearing from friends and loved ones the old-fashioned way, complete with a return address and a stamp.

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