Letters and Phone Calls Are Making A Comeback
What’s so special about a handwritten letter? Why do we find them so appealing?
Millennials recently started pen pal groups to relearn letter writing and make new friends. Not just a new trend, the art of letter writing attracts people of all ages.
Writing a letter takes time, energy, and focus. You need to pay attention to what you intend to convey. Receiving a letter is such a treat. Isn’t it delightful to get something personal instead of an advertisement or a bill?
My letters are typically intimate stories or heartfelt expression of feelings for the recipient. Maybe I get that from my grandmother.
I never met Vera, but feel like I know her. It started with a handwritten letter from 72 years ago.
Vera was my paternal grandmother.
She died of lung cancer when my dad was 2 years old. The doctors thought she had tuberculosis, so she stayed in a sanitarium where her children weren’t able to visit her. His sister, my Aunt Mary, was 7; his brother, my Uncle Bob, was 12.
My dad recently sent me copies of letters Vera wrote to my Great Aunt Marie while she was sick. The moment I began reading, my eyes welled up with tears. As the granddaughter she never got to meet, and as a writer, I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel like I inherited her warmth and creativity. I’m inspired to continue sharing the love with others.
Grandma Vera’s letters revealed her as a thoughtful, inviting, kind-hearted human.
If I hadn’t known her health situation, I would have never guessed this woman was terminally ill and isolated from her family.
She wrote a six page birthday letter that surpassed the generic messages of our modern day greeting cards. I often put a lot of thought into my celebratory messages, but they are nothing in comparison to what my Grandma Vera communicated.
She artfully crafted her letters, engaging in a dialogue of sorts. It felt like they were having a conversation. I’m impressed by the quality of what she wrote, and how attentive she was to others’ needs. She wanted to remain close with her family who lived thousands of miles away.
I was honored to receive such a precious gift from my dad, and I could see where he got his attentiveness and kind heart. I feel blessed in numerous ways.
Phone calls were expensive in the 1940s, and there was typically only 3 minutes initially given until the cost went up. Writing letters was the best way to communicate with loved ones back then, so she put her heart into every one.
Writing brings people together.
It connects us to our loved ones, including our ancestors. I vow to keep writing with pen and paper for my children and grandchildren to read and share.
That’s why handwritten letters will never go out of style. People appreciate them because they are tangible illustrations of someone’s love for us. I kept my first boyfriend’s love letters for nearly 15 years. His words (and frequent doodles) were some of his best gifts for me.
Then there’s the friend I actually call on the phone.
Kyle is my long lost friend from high school. He called me a few months ago, and I feel like we were never lost.
Have you ever felt an instant connection to a person, like you’ve known them forever? Perhaps we have, for more than a few thousand lifetimes.
We have plenty of what my psychic friend likes to call “matching pictures”. We hadn’t spoken in 30 years, and I felt like no time had past. He lives over 2,000 miles away, and I feel closer than ever.
My socially related phone calls are rare these days, so I’ve been out of practice. It was awkward at first, then it was awesome. I welcome more of that kind of intimacy.
We need to be fully present in a live phone conversation.
I can’t type out and edit, erase and think it over, all that business we do with text messages and emails. It was refreshing, an excellent reminder of my ideal.
When we talked about it, he said he only makes calls. If I want to keep in touch, I meet him where he feels most comfortable. I appreciate that kind of boundary. It strengthens our bond when I’m willing to respect that.
People unwilling to meet our needs will eventually fade out of our lives.
I want relationships that fill my cup, that allow me to give in return. A good faith effort toward growth is greatly appreciated.
Although I have plenty of in-person dialogue to stay tuned into the nuances of conversation, I admittedly need to reintegrate “real talk” into my life again, mostly via phone calls.
After using my cell phone for text and email communication for about a decade, with infrequent phone conversations, I’ve had to readjust to calling people. I get nervous and sometimes feel inarticulate. I’m inclined to interrupt more often, because that’s what typing a response is like. Seeing dots on my screen indicates someone about to say something, but their voice isn’t there as a cue.
I used to talk on the phone for hours. We had a give and take that allowed me to wait while the other person expressed themselves, then they waited as I talked.
Best of all, we had no “do-overs”. I can’t undo what has already been said. That’s important for an honest relationship to flourish.
Active listening and expressing thoughts with our voice cultivates understanding, empathy, and patience. I want my kids to practice as they navigate multiple forms of communication.
I had to reevaluate my relationships after that first call with Kyle.
If I stop social media or text messages, who will stay or leave? I took a long, hard look for a minute.
Would I be brave enough to find out? Maybe someday.
Are you brave enough to take that risk?
We have different social expectations than we had before. Some people won’t always step into authentic, direct communication. I’m grateful some friends are willing.
As much as I would like to return to the good old days, I realize I’ll have to accept a new version of the old ways. If it means I can write letters like my grandmother or have exhilarating calls with a dear friend who lives a few states away, then I’ll take it.
There’s nothing quite like a live conversation. That’s why many of us keep trying to curb our Facebook habits but can’t seem to stop.
We’re looking for love in all the wrong places.
We sporadically find nice stuff here and there, so we’re convinced that social media is actually the place to connect. But it’s incomplete and habit forming.
Text messages aren’t enough. There’s a time and a place, and it’s typically not a way to deepen a friendship.
What can we do about all these convenient ways to communicate without succumbing to sound bytes and isolation?
Actively connect with people by moving out of your comfort zone.
Pick up that 10,000 pound phone. Spend quality time with them in person. Stop limiting yourselves.
It’s possible to integrate the new with the old. We can still send texts and chat via messenger.
But let’s not forget the intimacy of a good old fashioned call or handwritten letter.
Check out my personal blog at gratefulx365.wordpress.com