The Lost Art Of Correspondence

Being an ex-pat makes me a reluctant Facebook fan. It allows me to keep in touch with family and friends, to see their children go off to kindergarten or college, to share the joy in a new birth or revel in the photos of a wonderful vacation. But I have come to realize that those two-line comments aren’t communication, and that friends who have chosen to “join the herd” and join Facebook are not so involved in my life, nor I in theirs.

Correspondence is a lost art. When was the last time you received a letter in the mail that wasn’t from your bank or Ziggo? How delightful was it when you saw a letter on your doormat, or in your mailbox, addressed to you from a dear friend or loved family member! I cherish a letter my grandmother sent me after she had visited us just after we were married and heartily regret not printing out the long chatty emails and faxes my dad used to send when we first moved to the USA. What will future generations refer to when there are no love-letters or letters from parents to children, full of sage advice? My mother-in-law still has the letters my father-in-law wrote from his tank in Germany in the 1940’s. I think the only hand written note I have from my husband is a shopping list! My future great-grandchildren will have to surmise the romance from the list of teabags, trash bags, Tanqueray gin and ‘stroopwafels’! One of my favorite websites is ‘Letters Of Note’ It has some fabulous, insightful letters from people from the past, and the present, that have me nodding my head at the astute advice or laughing at the humor. What a lost art letter writing is, and how it highlights the times in which it is written. For example the letters written by John Steinbeck to his young teenage son Thom, giving him relationship advice or the letters written by John and Abigail Adams, during the US War of Independence.

The Dutch word for stamp is postzegel and I always imagine a seagull flying across the oceans carrying my letter or postcard in its beak, a winged messenger from the Netherlands. So I am going to try and start a writing revolution, one letter at a time, as Goethe once said, "Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them."


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