When I was a kid, my cousin Sharis and I would write letters back and forth between New Jersey and Boston. Our families usually only got together for Easter and Thanksgiving (maybe Christmas if we were lucky) so the wait in between seemed like a lifetime. For two girls who were as attached at the hip as we were, this was nothing short of torturous. Back in those golden years of the 90’s, the world had yet to be sucked into the tidal wave of technology that we seem to be riding so smoothly now. There was a simple solution to distance: write letters.

Our letters to each other turned out to be the golden thread that kept us close through all those years of being apart. Granted, the intellectual reach of a couple of 10 year olds didn’t extend very far. Letters between us looked something like this:

Dear Sharis,

Today I went to the pool and got to swim in the deep end! Chris and I played a game and looked for pennies at the bottom of the pool. They were subosed to be treazures in the oshean. Do you like my new Lisa Frank stationary?? I dekerated the envelope with stikers! I cant wait till Thanks giving!!! 4 more months!! Write back soon!!



This might be a (slight) exaggeration, but you get the point. There are few pleasures in life as simple and basic as getting a letter in the mail, and I for one am saddened that this art form has been tossed aside. In the Gym Class of Life, letters would most certainly be picked last for dodgeball, especially if iPhone and Skype are already on your team.

While, yes, it is exciting to get a Facebook message or email, letters possess a timeless quality that just can’t be matched by any technological advancement. I love that you can hold a letter in your hands. You can ruffle through the pages and run your fingers over the ink. The pages you hold are the same ones touched by your sender. There is something so personal about that. Penmanship, as well, says a lot about a person’s character. I almost feel like to see someone’s handwriting laid out in a letter is to see them naked. In the end, the physical letter itself has the power to say more than the content they hold. Compared to a letter, an email just seems…cold.

If you want a great example of the beauty and power of letters, read Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road. In just 114 pages of correspondence between the author and a small English bookstore, Hanff reveals the emotions that can arise from a relationship built solely through letters. It’s a book that you can sit down and read in an hour, but the story will stick with you. I promise.

Recently, Sharis and I decided that we are going to start writing letters to each other again. The first thing I did was go out and buy a roll of stamps and some nice stationery. Yes, stamps are 12 cents more expensive than they were in 1995, and I’m not even sure if Lisa Frank still makes stationery, but I’m positive that the excitement of seeing her letter in the mail hasn’t changed a bit since I was a kid. And that’s something that will never go out of style.