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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

The Beauty of a Handwritten Letter

When did you last receive a hand written letter?

When did you last write one?

Is it a lost art?

My mother’s mother and father loved each other with an unbending intensity that started when they were handsome high school kids in Queens, New York. They never went with anyone but each other, and when he asked for her hand, my grandfather bestowed upon his beloved a simple elegant diamond solitaire which cost all his money and which she cherished and wore always. Theirs was a storybook marriage until a three-pack-a-day habit killed her at fifty two. He lived on and found happiness. But he is gone now too.

I sent them this postcard from summer camp in 1972. I was 8. Even though it’s only 37 words and my mom pre-addressed it, I can say with a safe degree of certainty that my grandparents loved getting it. My clunky boyish thoughts. Unedited and shared on this little rectangle were worth every penny of the 9-cent stamp.

I wish I could have closed the deal in tetherball, but such is life. I’m sure they understood.

There is humble triumph in a handwritten note. A boldness. Because your ideas spill from your mind in real time. Without the comfort of a DELETE key. Like cool water from a spring meandering downstream … succumbing to the unique gravity of your psyche … and drunk by a thirsty reader far away.

My 8-year-old handwriting was cramped yet fastidious. It too told a story. I opted for cursive to clarify that this was no trivial act. Flourishes on the D in Dear and the S in Stuart offer my own little postal jazz hands. BTW – schools across America are no longer teaching cursive, and it is estimated that many of our kids will NOT be able to read or write it. Yet one more step away from high-touch toward high-tech. Is that progress? I dunno.

I cannot remember the last time I received a proper letter. Thank You notes … yes. But a letter on several pages, folded in thirds … it’s been years.

Wanna make my day? Write me one. Just because. It can be one line. Or better yet, several pages. Tell me anything. I promise to write you back.

Even better, write to someone you really miss. Think how you’d feel getting a lovely and thoughtful note from them.

Let’s reclaim this lost art together.

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