Do you like to receive mail? I do. Recently, I opened the mailbox to find what looked like a handwritten card. Unfortunately, the machine generated note invited me to learn more about prearranging my cremation! Most of us still get letters once a year at Christmastime—what are often referred to as brag letters. Before modern technology and social media, news and information from friends and family were often sent as a letter. Years later, these letters become precious keepsakes. Unfortunately, handwritten letters have nearly become obsolete.

These days, if I want to know what’s happening with my family, I have to go to their social media page. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s impersonal. And because I never developed the habit of regularly checking the site, I find it a bit frustrating when the rest of the world knows what’s happening with my kids before I do!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-technology. When text messaging became popular, I surprised my kids with how hip I was. My daughter exclaimed to her friends, “I got a text message from my mom.” It was either a pleasant surprise or a horrified response to an invasion of her privacy! Advancements in technology allow us to communicate at lightning speeds with people near and far. 

Recently, my son said, “Mom, some girl in Ethiopia is trying to contact you via Facebook messaging, she says you’re her godmother.” My mind raced back to our time serving there. Yes, I was godmother to the daughter of some dear Ethiopian friends. That was nineteen years ago and Ebbisee would now be 17 years old. Her father died shortly after we left, and her mother managed to raise three kids in difficult economic circumstances. We had a great online reunion, but I really owe Ebbisee a tangible letter telling her how I remember her family and the qualities I admired about her father. 

Letters can be read over and over again, savored when you sit down, or discovered again at a later date.

I like the convenience of sending a text without having to bother someone with a phone call. Or shooting a quick message to my kids. But rarely do I sign, Love Mom, anymore. At least I could do that with an email. Instead it’s all kissy face and heart icons. I may post a picture of a special family event on social media, but we need to realize that our heartfelt messages will end up buried at the bottom of numerous other posts, never to be retrieved again. Our heartfelt thoughts and precious memories need to be communicated in a more permanent form.

I’m suggesting it’s time to revive the lost art of letter writing. People tend to save letters. They can be read over and over, savored when you sit down with a cup of coffee, or discovered again at some later date. The next time you send a text, post, or email consider sending it in the form of a letter. Your recipient will be delighted!

Kathy Thomas

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