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The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Text by: Jessica Ceason

Felt tip, fine point pens were more expensive than a bulk pack of ink pens, but my grandmotherís handwriting was an art that involved using the finest material. Shortly after her passing in 2003, my motherís correspondence to me started to contain carefully drawn letters, seemingly increasing their meaning. The capital ďAísĒ in particular were unique and reminiscent of my grandmotherís art with their three connecting points and curled tail. I imagine my mother studied her motherís written words, practicing writing the ďAísĒ with sentimental precision.
© Stephanie Stringfellow

When I moved out of my parentsí home into my first college apartment, my motherís letters to me began. She doesnít have internet at her cozy, little, country home, so she never e-mailed. We talked on the phone and caught up, but her letters were more than catching up ó they became sentiments to me, ways to remember the best parts about her, even during the most difficult times our relationship suffered. Her letters were timeless, whimsical, filled with color, emotion, light and smells. Often written on cards sheíd hand drawn, she would design an envelope to match. During the grief of losing her mother, her letters came in felt tip, fine point pen.

I have an upside down woodpecker on the suet feeder.
A frozen homemade block of suet, lard, peanut butter, bird seed,
pumpkin seed, left over popcorn spread onto a pan, frozen and cut to fit the
feeder. Tundra swans feeding in a refuge just south of town. Stopping daily to
watch and listen. Thousands feeding before migrating to a warmer climate.
Islands of white, noisy birds. Beautiful sky and sun horizons.

Deer huntingÖ David is out with his friend. Wishing him luck.
The candle burns in the kitchen window on the sill where it burns every deer
hunting season for safe return. Artichoke, spinach lasagna in the oven and
French bread baking. Lemon cake thawing and smashed sugared
strawberries to top. Wood fire warming the floors. Classical music and apple
cinnamon candles burn.

Letter writing is an art, possibly becoming lost amidst a vast oblivion of technological communication. Letters sent today are hasty, misspelled, abbreviated, short-handed, impersonal, tiny electric envelope icons lacking heartfelt connection. Iíve cherished a number of letters written to me by various loved ones. Those that have faired the spring cleaning purges are those that tell me about love, life, nature, environment, surroundings. Impersonal are those that are purely rambles of an incident. The art of the letters is what I love the most. The rarity of the art makes the letters priceless to me. Like paint to a canvas, words to paper attract and entrance their audience, take time to create, and are practiced and perfected.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

Consider writing a letter with paper and a pen. Write to someone you havenít heard from in a while. Write to your mother. Write to your relatives that donít have the internet in their homes. Write to yourself. Write so that your reader will want to read your words. In reviving the lost art of letter writing, take your time. Put the pen down and walk away. Flex the muscles in your hands, and use the descriptive words you learned in second grade. Use letter writing for meditation, relaxation, not just for communicating. Cross out words, start over, sit and stare. No rush. Thereís no send button.