Hand-written notes and letters hold a special place in the hearts of many. The time and care it takes to write a note, put a stamp on it and stick it in the mail shows a little extra care as opposed to a quick email.
Sure, emails are easy and popular. They can still carry meaning if the content is heartfelt and written with care. But, the written letter has always had a certain power to it.
I’ve written before about how I cherish the letters exchanged with my grandmother over the years of her life. I still read through them from time to time when I miss her and a cousin of mine has started writing letters with me now.
Over the last few weeks I’ve started looking at designs for personalized stationery and notecards. I’ve purchased boxed stationery many, many times based on the styles I enjoy. Some are fun and light-hearted, others more professional and classy. I have notecards to fit nearly every occasion. But personalized stationery is something special. I think the style you choose says a lot about who you are.
I’m likely the only one that would read into something as simple as stationery, but this week The New York Times published an article about Emory University obtaining letters written by President Barack Obama in the 1980s. The article got me thinking about famous letters written over the years.
Surely President Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Lydia Parker Bixby — though some say the letter was written by Lincoln’s secretary — stands out. In it, he attempts to comfort Bixby, who was thought to have lost five sons in the Union Army during the Civil War. “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom,” the letter reads.
Other letters that will be remembered in history include one from Gandhi to Adolf Hitler urging peace and the Queen of England’s note to President Eisenhower that included a recipe for scones. Love letters, too, have been saved and republished over the years.
“I love you no longer; on the contrary, I detest you. You are a wretch, truly perverse, truly stupid, a real Cinderella.” That’s Napolean Bonaparte writing to his wife, begging her to write him a letter as he’s had no news from her. Not exactly the sweetest opening to a love note, but I’m certain it caught her attention.
Then, of course, there are the letters returned to fans from famous movie stars, authors and others.
None of the letters I’ve written will ever be recorded in history books (I hope), but I do hope they carry meaning to those who receive them. I know I keep notes, no matter how simple, for years and years. Few are tossed to the trash because the kind words — and sometimes horribly rude words — carry meaning, both good and bad, in my life.
It’s difficult to imagine a typed email — full of emojis rather than swooping hand-written script — will carry as much weight in the history books, but I suppose only time will tell.