Pen Pals And The Lost Art Of Letters

I have long lamented the dying art of letter writing.  My mailbox would be bereft if not for monthly bills not already set to paperless and copious amounts of advertising flyers.  I rarely, if at all, even recieve a christmas card save for those sent by businesses.

The advent of cell phones with texting,  email and social media, dealt a death blow to personal correspondence and even these have decayed into inboxes filled with spam, forwards and cheeky shares but deficient in intimate communication.  Even texts have become minimal abbreviations of actual words!

A few weeks ago my grandson, Ezra,  called me and asked me if I would write him a letter! You may recall him from my posts, Prayers For Ezra and 8 years blessed.  Ezra is autistic and more than anything, he loves books and reading.  Before he could read himself, if you read him a book only once, he could repeat the entire thing back to you verbatim!  Now that he reads, he’s ravenous!

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I sat down straight away to write him.  I asked about his school work, encouraged his best behavior, discussed how much I love him and my hopes that he’d come see me this summer.  Having packaged my letter together with a self addressed stamped envelope, I realized that his younger sister may feel left out so I set about writing her a personal letter as well.

Here in the US, not only is letter writing a lost art but schools no longer teach cursive writing! In fact, if a student signs their name in cursive on an assignment, they get in TROUBLE!  I’m wondering who will sign their checks in the future and who will be able to read historical documents or letters from the past….what information will be lost?

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I’m so proud that my young grandson has been taught to read both print and cursive, preserving knowledge in at least a few of the next generation.

The kids were so excited to receive their letters, reading them over and over again and dictating their own letters back to me that I knew I’d have to up my game.  Clay took me shopping for supplies.  It is unbelievably difficult to find pretty stationary but I did find a colorful notepad,  stickers, blank bookmarks and a coloring book.

Their letters were so sweet and little Adalie’s was just hilarious.  She wants to come see me and butterflies.  Ezra is looking forward to going swimming and helping PawPaw drive the big boat.

The next letter I sent I included a decorated bookmark for each, a coloring book page, butterflies and a rhyming story I wrote when their mom was a little girl, Grandpa And The Snake…. a huge hit!

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We’re enjoying being pen pals so much that my granddaughter from Texas has joined in as well.  What I love about this idea is that it’s teaching my grandchildren the art of personal communication, of written correspondence and the joy of receiving something in the mail that someone else took the time to personally craft, just for them.  It’s a treasure worth sharing with our younger generations and memories they’ll treasure for life.

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Grandpa And The Snake

Early in the morning,
even before the sun woke up to shine,
my grandpa tiptoed out of bed                       with fishin’ on his mind.

He grabbed his lucky fishin’ cap
then to the kitchen he would go
to fix himself a picnic lunch
then off to his fishin hole

An apple, oranges and peanutbutter sandwiches he made
and to wash it down, he packed a jar
of grandmas famous lemonade.

Grandpa headed to the pond
as the morn’ was getting late
and got down on his hands and knees
to look for fishin’ bait.

Grandpa found a big green frog
and place him on his hook
and reached back to cast his line
but it seemed that it was stuck!

Grandpa turned to free his line
and exclaimed “Well I’ll be dogged!”
when he saw a sneaky snake
was trying to steal his big green frog!

Grandpa tugged and the sneaky snake pulled
till grandpa had a thought
and reached into the basket
for the lemonade he’d brought.

He poured it down that sneaky snakes throat
for the lemons were so tart
he knew that snake would drop his frog
and take off like dart!

sometime later as grandpa fished
much to his surprise
He looked to find at that sneaky snake
a tappin’ on his thigh!

A big green frog was in the mouth
of that sneaky snake
to trade for another drink
of grandmas famous lemonade!

Now I don’t know if this is true
but it’s what the people say
put the famous in my grandmas
famous homemade lemonade

COPYRIGHT ALERT
©Laura M. Bailey, All the shoes I wear & writing down the Bones, 1990–Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Laura M. Bailey with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

46 comments

  1. Lovely Ezra,
    This post is definite food for thought Laura. I do find letter writing therautic and I love, the one off occasions I receive one.
    I have no children and retired from Health Visiting 10 years ago so have lost touch with what’s ‘going on’ in schools. Thanks for the insight.
    When u.k lockdown started I put all my Christmas cards requiring responses in a folder to write to senders at some stage. I had returned from a 3 half month Gambian trip 3dec to 16 March so had a lot of catching up to do. Still not done it! Must prioritise and I also sense another post in the offing.
    Take care 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love it!!! I’d love to bring letter writing back into fashion! My grands save all my letters in a special letter box where those who can’t read yet, entreat their mom to read them to them, over and over again. I too, have kept my grandmothers letters, letters from friends and family, tied with ribbons in my keepsake trunk. I also have letter my great grandmother had written and recieved to and from her family members and they are so precious to me. It’s a way in which I may know her more fully, her thoughts and cares, the issues of family history and insights of culture andcera in which she lived. I hope my letters will be such a wealth to my loved ones some day too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really don’t think that art of letter writing is dying – it is still a very popular hobby – there are thousands of instagram accounts dedicated to letters, pen paling and mail art and several websites are dedicated to finding pen pals – as well as a multitude of facebook groups. There are even meetup groups where people meet and spend a few hours catching up on their correspondence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your input, Stephanie. I suppose it’s very much indicative of social circles I guess. Of the thousands of people I know, no one receives letters anymore, many have never, particularly among the younger ones.
      Thank you for reading. Write on!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, I remember getting letters from my grandparents even though we saw them all the time. It was cool at that age to get my own mail 🙂

    Now I don’t want the mail cuz it’s always bills.

    Sadly cursive and writing letters is almost gone. I guess people think it’s too much of a hazzle to write with technology we have now.

    I loved the story of Grandpa and the 🐍 that was cute!

    Like

    • Bill’s and spam mail! Lol
      Cursive….wont people still need to sign checks? Signature file? Sounds crazy! If our power grid fails or some hacked bring down the internet…our younger gens are going to be in trouble and virtually illiterate! Lol plus I love being able to read my great grandmothers letters and diaries.
      Thank you for liking the story. It was a joy to share a story I wrote for their mom when she was little.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nah, checks are almost a thing of the past too. Everything is done electronically. You are right though. This new gen will literally go into panic mode and probably die. Most can not write legibly. Most do not type…they just say what they want and their phone sends the message in words. Heck most can not even cook without a microwave or even wash their clothes. It’s really sad when you think about it.

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    • It’s such a rare thing In today’s world. We rarely even recieve a card. More typical is a birthday wish conveyed on FB! Lol The occasional christmas card usually only contains a signature though I recall that cards recieved in my youth always had a handwritten note. On those blue moons where I’ve recieved an actual letter, you’d think I’d captured a leprechaun, a unicorn, discovered the hope diamond! Haha it’s a real treasure to recieve a hand written letter in my box. 😊 I also keep letters forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this!! My son is learning to read right now, he’s in kindergarten. But I’m with you on the mail thing. I send out paper invites to my kids’ birthday parties and I send out a picture Christmas card every year. The only thing for me, is that it does add up, cost wise. But I love doing it!

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  5. That was beautiful Laura! I bet those angels are so happy to get those letters.

    I love writing letters and have kept almost every one I’ve received over the years. I love going back and reading letters from my grandmother and great grandmother. They are my treasure.

    I try and write my young friend Asa about twice a month, even though we already talk several times a week anyway. He’s such a long way from home and it feels good to put something tangible in his hands.

    I believe in letters.

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    • That is so beautiful, Angel! As has a great friend in you. I too am so sentimental and keep all my letters and cards. My mom has my great grandmothers chest and when I visit, I spend hours sitting on the floor going through the trunk and reading her letters. I’m so happy to share the memories we are making with my grandchildren. 🤗💕

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this idea! As a child I loved getting letters and cards. Even as a young adult. The excitement to receive mail! Someone took the time to reach out. It is sad we are losing the art of writing. Your grandchildren are beautiful! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love getting letters!! I actually don’t get any mail at all right now. Like one when my insurance policy changes or a new credit card arrives when my old expires but that’s not regular hehe

    And here in Canada we still teach cursive!! Lol

    Liked by 2 people

      • I’m not sure if it’s in the curriculum to teach it but every grade 4-6 class I ever supplied in had cursive. And I would never tell a student they couldn’t write in cursive! Those teachers are so closed minded. I know personally how the public system can get you down and push you into this place of unrecognizability, but teachers should celebrate students expanding their learning like that. Or in any way!

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      • I agree completely! It has been a movement for some time now. I noticed it when my son was required to purchase and use a calculator in math class instead of learning to do it personally. The thought behind it is that its become a Digital world with computers and smart phones so the trade is to use technology. My thought and I did enforce the learning at home, is that the ability to utilize technology is indeed important but more so is the ability to utilize the most complex computer on earth…..the humans brain.😊
        If, God forbid, something were to happen to the power grid etc, we would still be able to read and add for Pete’s sake! Lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha exactly! I don’t mind the use of calculators in school but learning the process should always come first. Checking with technology sure. At least up to high school. Once I was there I needed a scientific calculator to do the stupid math haha so thats ok. Anytime the alphabet is involved I will allow technology

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sharp looking grandkids you have!

    “who will be able to read historical documents or letters from the past….what information will be lost?”

    That’s exactly the point. Dumb us down to the point we only know what we’re told. An ignorant population is an easily controlled population.

    Liked by 4 people

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