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I woke up early yesterday morning and sat with coffee as I gazed out at the grey cloudy skies. There is a promise of snow in the air just as the weatherpeople have been predicting. The only sign of color outside is an occasional red-headed woodpecker who ventures to the suet feeders outside the window. The day ahead looms grey and gloomy and heavy if one is to gauge it by the weather outside. And though I got plenty of sleep the night before, I feel tired and as heavy as the weather.

It is, as my mom calls it, a blah day.

Rousing myself from my early morning stupor, I get dressed and ready to head to town to do some errands. I need milk and bread and a few things from the store in case we DO get snow. And I need to go by the post office to mail some bills and check the box for anything else that might have come in.

The air is cold and damp as I walk into the post office. How I would love to see the sun! There is something spirit-lifting about the warm glow of the sun even for a short time on days like these. And it’s been far too long since we’ve seen it.

Opening the box, I grab the jumble of mail inside and start back to the truck as I thumb through the stack. Yup, the usual stuff …. bills… junk… a couple more bills… oh look, something from AARP AGAIN. Pushing the door open while still thumbing through the paper, I stop at the bottom of the steps and smile as I pull a brightly patterned foldover notecard from the stack.

And suddenly it’s as if the sun had just come out from behind the clouds.

The familiar handwriting tells me it’s a letter from Ma, one of the campground hosts who will be returning in a few months and who captured my heart (and I hers). Coming to a dead halt in the middle of the sidewalk, I open it and start to read greedily about news of her travels and her plans and how she misses our Dairy Queen runs when she’s here. My smile must have given it away, for an elderly woman passing me to go up the stairs said “There’s nothing quite like a letter, is there?”

No ma’am there isn’t!

As I sat later in the day re-reading her letter and savoring each word, it hit me how true letter writing has gone by the wayside. In this day and age of technology, we have given up the handwritten letter in favor of more instant emails. While it is definitely more convenient to sit down and fire off a quick email to friends and family. it has given handwritten letters the status of a “lost art”. To receive one is rare in this day and age.

In the busyness of life there is simply no time to sit and write a letter by hand. Perhaps more accurately, many of us don’t TAKE the time to sit and write a letter by hand.

Oh what we miss by not doing that from time to time!

The news may be days old by the time it’s received, but there is something so incredibly personal about the written pages, the familiar handwritings, the words that make you feel like you’re sitting across the table with them having a conversation in person. So personal that the love contained on those pages jumps off and soaks into your heart.

Some of my fondest childhood memories revolved around handwritten letters. There wasn’t a day that passed without my mother sitting down at the table to write a letter to her parents who lived in another city, just as my grandmother wrote back to her. And there wasn’t a day when my grandfather did not include a letter written specifically to my brother and I… letters full of stories and cartoon sketches of worms and squirrels with funny names. Magical letters that brought the sun out no matter how gloomy the day. We couldn’t wait until Mom got the envelope open, begging her to read them over and over. When we could read, we’d snatch the letters out of her hand before she barely had time to get it out of the envelope. Now tucked away in a box, they are treasures that transcend time… treasures of the heart.

There are letters of my own that I have tucked away… a letter from my Dad on my 16th birthday, letters from my mom on those occasions as well as one she wrote to me while I was about to give birth to Amy, letters from Amy when she was away from home, letters from my grandfather addressed specifically to “Miss Susan”… all treasures, each and every one!

So I sit, pen in hand and paper in front of me, savoring the feel of the ink gliding over the paper as I write about life’s events. I smile and laugh to myself as I write some of the words. My breathing is slow and relaxed. When I am done, I feel a sense of accomplishment as I fold the paper and tuck it into a stamped envelope.

I mailed my “little ray of sunshine” this morning in the cold drizzle that precedes our snowfall.

I know the reaction when it is taken from it’s destination mailbox, for it will be like mine. The catch of breath, the anticipation for what might be held in those pages, the absolute need to open and read it immediately even if it DOES mean standing stock still in the middle of a sidewalk downtown. Or in Ma’s case, it may be tucked into a pocket in anticipation of sitting down with a cup of coffee when returning home and savoring it at leisure. It will be read and re-read and then read again many times over. I can’t imagine that anyone who gets such a letter can react any differently.

I admit to depending on email for most of my written communication with family and friends as they do with me. It’s immediate and gets the news to them pronto. I use my blog to write about the other “little” things in my life so that they can be shared with them and others who might happen to read my posts. Phone calls are plentiful.

But there’s still something about a handwritten letter that hasn’t lost it’s punch over the years even though that form of communication has been mostly long forgotten.

The sad thing is that so many may not ever know… because it IS a lost art!

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