Don't get me wrong. I love facebook. I love that I can connect and keep in touch with all the friends I have made around the world, see their "headline" news and their latest pictures. I also relish getting a long email from a friend with all their news. But I must admit that nothing quite beats opening the letterbox to find, among the various bills and notifications, a beautiful letter like this:
With a letter like this, you don't open it immediately. You wait until you have a quiet moment. You wait until you can sit with a cup of tea and no other distractions and enjoy what will unfold in the letter. You'll read it a couple of times and then put it in a safe place. Equally, the same consideration will be given to your response. You'll go and find your nice writing paper and choose the right time to compose your response.
We've become so used to fast communication that the whole, somewhat indulgent, process of receiving and writing a letter got me thinking. What makes a letter so special? Do we write differently in a letter compared to an email or a facebook message? I think so.
In a letter, we may convey some of the happenings of recent days, but we may also be more likely to provide some details about where we are writing, how we are feeling, what sounds we hear and what we might see out of the window. We can, through words, paint a picture of a little snippet of that moment in time. A moment when we have cast out other distractions and focused purely on communicating to a particular friend. This is, I think, both the "art" of letter-writing and also the thing that makes it so special. It's a real sign of respect that your friend has taken the time to sit down, write about their life to you, seal and address the letter and take it to the post office. It's not as easy as an email. And for that reason, it's more special.
Let's not lose the art of letter-writing. I'm sure we all know someone who would appreciate a letter in the post. Now is as good a time as any to get out your writing paper and pop in a little letter with a Christmas card. And you never know what will appear in your letterbox in a couple of weeks...