I’ve been looking at old primers on letter writing, everything from Emily Post’s treatise on notes and short letters to a 19th century guide to writing letters to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s Letter Writing Lesson Plan, all of which give a fascinating look into letter writing etiquette of the past. The rules give insight into the culture of the time, but reading actual letters from the past provides a window into the souls of the writers. And though the language they employ is much different than what we use today (can u dig it?), the people who wrote them are not at all unlike their modern day descendants. Their letters give them a sense of humanity that can’t be established in any other way. An amazing and vital component of historical documentaries is the letter, which gives a unique perspective and lets us in on what the writers were thinking and feeling in a very concrete way.
Today, we are encouraged to let things go, pare down, and declutter in an effort to make our lives simpler. We are encouraged to jettison things from our past. Tidying guru Mari Kondo advises we read special notes and then discard them, letting them live in our memories rather than on our shelves. This makes me sad, because we lose so much of the human legacy this way. Email may last forever somewhere in cyberspace, but in part because of this, we don’t use email in quite the the same way that we use letters to communicate.
So how to write a letter? I don’t think rules need apply when you are expressing your innermost feelings to the person you missed a chance to say something to. Check out these inspirational hand written love notes from people ranging from Henry VIII to Michael Jordan for some inspiration.
Send a letter to the person you missed saying something to here:
PO Box 281
Morristown, NJ 07963
And become a part of the healing art project that memorializes your positive intentions and carries them forth in the world in the form of a healing paper quilt.
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