The personal letter might soon go the way of the dinosaur or the Edsel automobile — extinction.
Maybe because of the time it takes to write a hand-written letter, this type of communication isn’t as popular as it once was. That’s why people who receive such letters cherish them so.
The best letters are hand-written with a fountain pen. Sometimes the handwriting is smooth with the letters beautifully shaped and spaced.
My mother wrote letters filled with such penmanship. Legibility marked her every word.
As Mom grew older, her writing became a bit less beautiful. I used to become a little melancholy when I’d see the envelope she’s addressed to me arrive in the mail. But once I opened the envelope and began reading, my mood changed to joy.
My mother wrote a wonderful letter — filled with news about what Dad and she were doing. Whether they’d received rain. Father Walshe’s Sunday sermon or the condition of her garden.
It was jam-packed with details and provided me with updates about my family and their animals. I learned about my aunts and uncles, neighbors I grew up with, or how many quarts of tomatoes she’d finished canning for the upcoming winter.
Once upon a time, a letter was sent as a personal message from one person to another. It’s unfortunate more of us don’t communicate this way anymore.
I consider it a real gift to receive a letter written in conversational form intended just for me.
A couple weeks ago, I received such a letter from a friend in Sedgwick County, Kent Winter, who farms northwest of Wichita near Andale. The envelope also was penned in Winter’s hand.
The letter opened with, “Good morning John,” and continued in his easy, flowing style. The message of the letter focused on Kent’s oldest son, Alan, and news of his education in the seminary at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, Calif. Alan continues in the preliminary phase of becoming a member of the Norbertine Order.
Consider the news about his son Kent related to me in just this one paragraph. Think about how much else I learned in his entire message to me.
Personal letters are special. I have a box of them tucked away in my birch-wood desk in the study of our home. Another bunch of contemporary letters clutter one of the kitchen drawers where our portable phone sometimes hides out.
A treasured letter will last a lifetime. Letters are a form of communication that allow the writer to reveal some of his/her most personal thoughts. These thoughts may be critiqued and scrutinized time and time again before some letters are even mailed.
In a letter the subject matter is specific. Individual topics may be addressed. The writer’s personal self surfaces in a hand-written letter.
Often, people write from their hearts, as well as their minds, in their letters. What may appear trite to a disinterested third party makes sense to the person who receives the personal message.
Personal letters may not make sense to anyone else, but the two parties involved usually understand every word, sentence, paragraph and page. And, oh, how wonderful it is to sit down in your favorite chair and read through a personal letter intended just for you.
If you are one of those people who enjoy receiving a hand-written letter, think of how one of your close friends or loved ones might enjoy hearing from you in the same form.
Write to someone you know and care about soon. Let’s keep this personal form of communication alive.
Better yet, let’s revitalize a treasured tradition.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwest Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.