When I was growing up, I remember the excitement of writing a letter, to a friend or a relative. Maybe this was to keep in touch with a pen-pal in a faraway land; or, to thank a member of my family for a gift I had received. I selected the stationery carefully, and enjoyed practising my best handwriting on the envelope. Nowadays, it might seem strange to sit down and write a letter by hand. We’re so used to instant communication, be it texting, engaging with others on social media, or emailing.
Okay, so we should be thankful for technology. It saves time. It is quick, and it can be accessed anywhere, as long as there is a some kind of signal. But putting pen to paper and crafting a letter is on another level. It is why Universal Letter Writing Week takes place every year, in the second full week or January. This year, it is from 14-20 January. Its aim is to prompt people into picking up a pen (a simple black biro, or maybe something glitzier) and write a letter. It is perfectly timed, too, given that Christmas has just passed, when you might want to write and thank someone.
It isn’t just writing a letter that’s important, though. Receiving a hand-written letter in the post is wonderful, even more so if the envelope arrives through the door with beautiful handwriting on the front. Now, many people might think that writing letters is not needed, as why spend the time waiting for a reply when you can send a quick message on a phone or computer? Well, they can be items that end up as a treasured possession, or in some cases, of historic significance.
Way, way back in 500 BC, it is thought to have been Queen Atossa of Persia that wrote the first hand-written letter. Some centuries later, in 1840, the first stamped letter was posted in the UK. And in 1847, the first postage stamp was issued in the USA.
Letters can be treasured and stored to read again in the future. Of course, emails or texts can also kept, but reading back through a paper letter is so much more personal, largely because if it is hand-written and can provide a link to the person who has written it. Letters can take a bit of time to write, and you are likely going to have to wait a while for a reply, but it’s a satisfying thing to do. So, why don’t you spend some time writing a letter (or more than one) this January? Without a doubt, the person who receives it will love picking it up, sitting down and reading it. And hopefully, you’ll receive a reply.
Letter-writing won’t replace texting, Snapchat, or posting on Instagram, but it is a great skill to practice. So, get pen to paper and start writing!
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