Love Letters straight from the Heart.

Remember letters? You wrote to someone on paper, put it in an envelope, addressed, stamped  and posted it.

A bundle of friends.

A bundle of friends.

Remember the feeling when you get a letter? Remember the feeling of anticipation, trying to guess who it may be from if you don’t recognize the writing. How long since you wrote a letter or since someone wrote a letter to you?

I don’t mean emails. I love emails. They’re quick, can be brief, are great for making arrangements and for staying in touch with a lot of people.

So far, I haven’t used Facebook much, but I can see how  useful it is for sharing stuff with lots of people.

But real letters, think about them for a moment. Think about letters you’ve received that mattered to you. Do you have a bundle of kept letters? If you’re young, you may never have received one. Do you still get birthday cards in the mail or is an email good enough?

Treasured letters.

Treasured letters.

I have a letter from my grandmother so old the paper is worn away in some of its folds. There’s a note my father sent me when I was seventeen and had just left home. A box of cards from  people I have never met sent to me in hospital, a very ill girl far away from home. They gave me the courage to keep going.  Do I keep emails?

Well yes, sometimes I do, but…do I re-read them? Do I hold them in my hand and treasure them? Do they bring back memories of that person as I see her beloved handwriting? Do I remember the moment I found them in the letter box?

There’s discussion here in Australia about ending a daily mail delivery. I had been thinking about letters, prompted by the rarity of my receiving any before this discussion began. Somehow it now seems more urgent. One of my friends is diligent about sending cards and my mother was known and appreciated for sending notes to her friends to let them know she was thinking of them. I’m slack at sending birthday cards- first I have to find one I like, then I resist the cost.. often I end up with a card I haven’t managed to post. I have several August birthdays I meant to…

If I like getting a letter, won’t other people enjoy it too?

Letters provide us with history. They fill in the detail. Cronechronicler is blogging the letters she sent her small sons while she and their father were abroad. Fortunately she had kept them. I have a letter my mother had kept for more than fifty years- I wrote it to her when she was away in hospital and I was twelve. I don’t remember writing it and that twelve year old self is a distant echo. You can imagine my feelings when I found it, after her death. I was so glad that twelve year old had written it.

Maybe they're full of letters!

Maybe they’re full of letters!

While I’ve been pondering getting mail and writing letters and as we Australians may lose our regular mail delivery, I discovered a movement to send a letter to a stranger through a TED talk (God bless TED!). Hannah Bencher, whose mother wrote regularly to her, became depressed after college, so she did what came naturally- she wrote love letters to strangers and left them wherever she went. She blogged about this and promised “if you ask me for a hand-written letter, I will write you one.” Overnight she was inundated with requests. As she says “her inbox morphed into this harbor of heartbreak”.

This simple beginning is now a global initiative- “The world  needs more love letters.”  Her talk is moving and inspiring and the stories she tells will warm your  heart. I am determined to take paper and pen and write! I have bought some sheets of beautiful paper, I have stacks of cards…maybe my neighbour would like a letter in her box? In the meantime, I have those August birthdays. It’s not too late to write.






33 thoughts on “Love Letters straight from the Heart.

    • Re-discovering letters, as I was trying to set up a photo for this post, was enlightening- I understood some of the pressures from when I was much, much younger- I do have lots of old letters and cards, many of which I had completely forgotten. Thanks for the comment.

  1. Last year I received a letter from someone who had been my closest friend when I was young. Hand addressed envelopes are so rare in one’s mailbox and as I did not recognise the handwriting, I flipped the envelope over hoping that the letter writer had revealed herself (yes I intuited that it was from a woman) – and she had – I burst into tears at the mailbox and rushed inside to open it. We have resumed our friendship and I love her dearly. I had never stopped thinking about her. Needless to say, that letter will be kept for the rest of my life.

  2. I feel the same way about letters and cards. I have a letter my dad sent me not long before he died. It’s about nothing in particular written on a note pad from a fertilizer company. I keep it in a drawer of my bedside table that I don’t often open. When I do open that drawer it is always a wonderful surprise to see my dad’s handwriting. Thanks for mentioning my letters to my young children while their dad and I traveled.

    • Their handwriting somehow evokes their presence, doesn’t it? so precious. A pleasure to mention your letters, but don’t throw away the paper version will you? Your blog is always a delight.

  3. I think you’ve made some really interesting points here that a lot of people would agree with! Handwritten letters arriving in the post are fast becoming a thing of the past for me too. And I have to confess to not writing that many myself either. I agree emails are a perfect way to keep in touch, but there is something so different about a letter received in the post. I can understand you not wanting to part with your letters from your Grandmother, letters like that are precious and priceless! I miss not getting letters from my Mother, even when she moved to the same city as me, she still occasionally wrote a letter, to tell me about something she heard on the radio or to send me a cutting from a newspaper or a magazine, or just to encourage me in anything I was going through. And I still have most of those letters, even though I rarely read them, I can’t part with them. Strangely, I feel sometimes they are all I have of her now. When someone is no longer here, their letters contain their personality in more ways than one.

    It was interesting to read about Hannah Bencher, (I watched her TED Talk) such a simple idea, and such an astounding response. I shall share her TED Talk on my Tumblr blog, what she says may inspire a few others to do the same. Isn’t it strange that we are still shocked by just how many people are so very lonely?! The world is a lonely place, and not necessarily because people are physically alone, but because they feel no-one is listening, which is even more tragic. That’s probably why the internet is so greatly successful, a large part of it is about sharing something of yourself and communicating often with total strangers – but it really works! A handwritten letter is just that much more personal, and some people still haven’t ventured into the internet world, they must be feeling a little left out if all their friends and relatives are.

    Have you ever seen a film called Mary and Max? It’s an Australian animated film about a eight year old girl who randomly picks a name from a telephone directory (another useful paper fast becoming a thing of the past!) and writes to a man called Max Horovitz. An interesting and sometimes hilarious friendship develops. It’s a really quite a lovely film, all about loneliness and how letters to someone feeling the same can be for some their only lifeline. There are lots of clips on You Tube if you haven’t seen it. I remember thinking “I’ll give it ten minutes.” It was so entertaining, I never once moved for the entire film, which is a rarity for me in watching a film! 🙂

    So I guess I shall have to write more letters now!! And I really hope your daily postal service doesn’t get cut, that sounds like going back into the dark ages!

    • Hi Suzy and thank you for your comment. I so much appreciate your comments and the time you take. Since I wrote this, I’ve been reading many of the letters and cards I have kept, some of which I had forgotten about. So many of them so full of love and care! I have this long term project to somehow scrapbook them all, so I can pick it up and read them. And yes, with my mother I often feel I don’t need to see her, just to tell her something would be enough. There’s a lesson there! I love Hannah Bencher’s talk- such a small thing and potentially life-changing. Haven’t seen the film, I’ll look for it. I’d write to you Suzy, on paper, stamp it etc., if you ever need mail!

      • So sorry to take an age to get back to you Kate, I’m terribly behind on WordPress at the moment!! You can email me if you’d like to? The email listed here with my comment will be fine. I have a little collection of blog friends who exchange occasional emails with me on that address, it’s lovely to do that. People can talk a bit more about themselves in a less public way. Although I have warned them all, I can take a while to reply sometimes. I find with all this blog communication on the internet, I can almost forget to get back to my emails. Something about getting notifications on WordPress makes me think it’s all done, I have to set myself reminders. My brother often says to me on the phone, “Did you read my email yet?” and I think ‘Email? When did I last check my emails?!!’ There’s normally a long list waiting for me! 😀

  4. I agree ….I have just found time to write letters…they do require thought…and they are far more meaningful…Peace…Bernie.

  5. yes! I think that’s part of it- they require time- get the paper and envelopes, write- and handwriting for me nowadays is slower, even getting to post them can take me a few days. It all requires a little more effort. But Bernie, you do it! Thank you for letters over the years.

  6. Oh what a wonderful post. I agree. In our technological world, we have forgotten the simple pleasure a letter brings. Both forms of communication can complement each other. Through genealogy on the internet, I found my distant family in Australia. My great grandmother’s sister Annie, a widow, emigrated there in 1915. My dad knew Annie had a son called Harold and I was trying to trace him. Sadly, Harold had passed on, but, I found his daughter Betty. We’ve corresponded by letter ever since. Annie and Harold visited England in 1929 to see family. I have two letters, one from Annie and the other from Harold, adressed to my great grandmother in Liverpool. Both letters have their envelopes, and they were written on their journey back to their home to Australia. They mention family news and also ‘Rememberance Day’ on board ship, and the poppies being cast in the water. The envelopes bear the ‘Esperance Bay’ ship’s postmark and were posted in Fremantle.

    I also have three letters sent from my mother’s uncle, working in Argentina. They were written in the early 1950’s, during the war, and were asking my mum if she was managing. She was to let him know if she was struggling, and he would help. He was already sending her an allowance every week, so she was very lucky. So yes, I do think letters are to treasure.

    • Wow! So special! Where in Australia are your relatives? Of course, Henry Parkes was our Father of Federation- he was a great letter writer. A relative?
      Letters contain so much history- much of what we know from ancient and classical times comes from letters. I remember trying to decipher fragments of letters written on papyrus when I was a uni. student- from very long ago. Our National Library has a project attempting to document and keep websites- they are so ephemeral. I don’t know how successful they are. But the handwriting adds so much, doesn’t it?

      • I agree about the websites. It would be wonderful if a record could be kept of every website. What a joy it would be to future family historians! Actually seeing the thoughts of your ancestors recorded as we are able to see from letters. One reason to be extra careful with our typing, ha ha.

        I don’t know about Henry Parkes. This is the surname of my husband and I’ve traced his relatives who lived in Wigan, Greater Manchester. They moved there from Sedgeley, Staffordshire. They were miners and moved for the work. I suppose one of the branches could have produced that Henry Parkes. There is another Henry Parkes in Wigan, who in 1780, founded ‘Bulldog Tools’ with William Parkes. I’m not sure if he’s part of my tree either.

      • My apologies for not replying earlier and my thanks for your offer. You see, this is the difficulty- we don’t know where he was born and we aren’t sure if the birthdate we have is correct. Since your kind offer, I have been in touch with some cousins and I have a visit planned for the next couple of months, but we’re stymied really! I grew up believing that he had come to Australia as an orphan, but recently that has been questioned and there have been suggestions that he may have been born here. A mystery! Thank you for your offer.

  7. I went and read the TED speech and it was lovely. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    As for letters, although I appreciate wishes and news shared on the internet, I’m quite fond of physical letters. They have a different meaning and weight in people’s minds.

    • I’m so glad you took the time to read the TED speech. It’s a joy and reminds me to follow those impulses, all too often ignored, the little messages from our intuitive selves. Her story is a wonderful example of going with it, who would ever have predicted where it would lead?

  8. I don’t send letters anymore, but I do send lots of cards–much more personal than e-cards, which seem sterile to me. However, I do cherish the cards and letters from Grandma Longenecker and my mother – more precious with the passing years. Great topic!

  9. The long wait for the next letter built up tension until you thought you couldn’t wait anymore. I remember those days. I’d love to find a package of old love letters. Even the thought of anyone having some hidden away and forgotten is a story. I’ve stopped mailing Christmas cards and only mail out special birthday cards these days as postage is over the top.
    Wonderful post. Thanks for the memories. ❤

  10. Kate, I love this! I was thinking about letters just the other day. My husband and I used to write each other letters all the time in the beginning of our relationship, when we were in different countries. Then, for years after we got married, I used to write him a letter every year on Valentine’s Day, filled with all the things I love and appreciate about him. I haven’t done it recently but you’ve inspired me to get writing. To him and to my mother and father and brothers and sister, just to start with 🙂

  11. I inspired myself! The Valentine’s Day is a lovely idea. I have a niece in PNG- I mean to write to her…I will! Finding letters I’ve written to others and realizing they had kept them…now that was a moment. If only I’d written more
    Where are you up to with solar?
    Good to hear from you.

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