My Collection of Personal Letters / by Leslie

A few weeks ago I dove into my box of personal letters. Have you been following the theme around here lately? I'm digging in my past something fierce these days, revisiting the old family farm, asking questions about family genealogy and listening to my high school mixed tapes. All psychology aside, let's just say that I'm old enough now to have a past and be interested in it. It's a great place to visit for stories.

It made me feel good, to read these old letters and notes. People telling me they loved me, missed me, saying thank you for some such thing or another. I listen to those sweet sentiments all over again. I've kept a lot of the envelopes too and I love looking at the old stamps and postmarks. I wished I had some of the letters that I wrote and I've asked a couple people to see if they might have kept any of them. It would be cool to see the back and forth exchange.

A letter is a precious thing these days, with almost all of our communications happening in email or online. I wish there was a better way to archive our best emails, send them to a file automatically and once the file was full we could send it off to be printed. It seems so tedious to print out one at a time and sometimes it's a big waste of paper. But I would still miss the handwriting and little doodles and sketches and the fact that the person had touched it.

I call out to everyone: SEND MORE LETTERS!! I just missed January's Universal Letter Writing Week, but that's ok. I can still make an effort to send a few personal letters this year.

Nancy Hendrickson's Genealogy How-To has a great post about how old letters can be family treasures.

Do you have any old letters in your family? Do you keep the letters and cards that people send to you?

And, be sure to check out this amazing experimental video/film by Chris Milk featuring Arcade Fire's song "We Used To Wait". You need Google Chrome to try this, but it's really cool and nostalgic. The lyrics are all about writing letters.

We Used To Wait by Arcade Fire

I used to write,
I used to write letters I used to sign my name
I used to sleep at night
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain

But by the time we met
By the time we met the times had already changed

So I never wrote a letter
I never took my true heart I never wrote it down
So when the lights cut out
I was left standing in the wilderness downtown

Now our lives are changing fast
Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last
Hope that something pure can last

It seems strange
How we used to wait for letters to arrive
But what's stranger still
Is how something so small can keep you alive

We used to wait
We used to waste hours just walking around
We used to wait
All those wasted lives in the wilderness downtown