The Joy of Writing Letters

My older son Jasper wrote me a letter a few weeks before the end of school. He’s been on a letter writing roll for a while now. He would come home from school, cheeks rosy from the warm air outside and whip open his backpack. From his red folder, he would pull out five letters that he wrote that day in school – to grandparents and various family members and friends.

In one stream of motion, he would gather his pencil and rush to the dining table with a fresh set of paper. Tapping his NYC subway pencil against the side of his head, he would ask, “Mommy, who should I write a letter to?” We’d then generate a long list of potential recipients, and he’d set to work.

IMG_9261

One afternoon, we returned home from school and I just wanted them in the house and settled – shoes offs, coats off, backpacks off, lunch bags on the kitchen counter like a well-rehersed dance. Yet, our performance resembled something more like a clown show – clumsy, miscued, messy. It was one of those trying afternoons where I struggled against one son’s tantrums on the way home and the other son’s latest mood swing.

I retreated to the bathroom (cliche, I know) and held my head in my hands. Then, Jasper slipped a piece of paper under the door. My first thought was, “Can’t I get a minute of peace in the bathroom???” I picked up the paper and read it.

letter to mommy
{I think that “seper” is supposed to be sleeper. I have been know to sleep in.}

I opened the bathroom door. Jasper was draped over our hamper, slip sliding in his socks on the wooden floor. He stopped and looked up at me with his goofy crooked tooth smile.

“Thank you Jasper. I love my letter.”

As he retreated to his room, I took a blank piece of paper and wrote him a letter, slipped it under his bedroom door. I told him some of the things that I loved best about him and waited for his reply.

Dad

I’m not the best at expressing my emotions, especially when that emotion is coupled with vulnerability and I’m supposed to express it to someone I love and care about. Thoughts seem to roll out easier and more fluent when my fingers string the words together. You could probably trace it back to my upbringing, my parents, my Asian background (we don’t speak emotions in my family) but it doesn’t really matter, does it?

My love affair with letters began when I was eight years old. My father had recently passed and our family received a lot of letters and cards. Notes of sympathy and condolences. But among that stack of letters and cards and sad sad condolences was a letter addressed to me, from the daughter of a family friend, a pseudo-cousin if you will. While she wrote to say that she was sorry about my Dad, she also wrote to say hi and to ask me questions. From that point on, we exchanged letters constantly. It provided me with a strand of communication and friendship.

When my husband and I first started dating, we communicated predominantly via email. We were co-workers at a small consulting firm and tried to keep our relationship under wraps. Even though we worked a few desks away from each other, we emailed each other throughout the day. Having that form of communication allowed me to open up in ways that I probably wouldn’t have as quickly in person.

letter to mommy

I find comfort in the written word. It’s also a way for me to think through my thoughts and get them out of my brain without the filter of emotion and the cascade of words stumbling out of my mouth. I love how letters can express and create a deep connection between two people through the magic of words.

When I watched Jasper throw himself headlong into letter writing, I found a new kinship with him and his need to capture his thoughts in words and use those words to express himself to others. He’s not always the biggest talker and he sometimes gets shy, but I see his desire to communicate and connect when he brings out his paper and pen.

Do you write letters?

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Comments

  1. says

    Ok so that made me cry!! I love that he can write you letters and you get a window into his little head. How precious. I actually love writing letters but I don’t do it very often. One of my best friends and I exchange a lot of “just because” cards and it makes me happier to send them for sure!
    Allie recently posted..If No One Shows Up, Do You Still Win?My Profile

  2. says

    I love this! I became a letter writing fan back in grade school when we had pen pals. It was always so fun to pen a letter, send it off and wait for something in return. Now, the only actual paper letter I write is to my grandmother. We’ve been writing back and forth to each other ever since I left home for college. Sadly, she no longer writes back since she has dementia. But I’m still writing just because I know she enjoys receiving them! Great post Christine!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Thoughts From a Long RunMy Profile

  3. says

    This is so sweet! I am a kindergarten teacher and I love when children have a love of writing (letters, journals, etc). You can learn so much from children through their writing. I enjoy writing letters, well, I write my husband cards all the time. I also think that the importance of a handwritten thank you note (or any note) is less appreceiated now more than ever! Such a sweet post :)
    Karen @karenlovestorun
    Karen Loves to Run (@karenlovestorun) recently posted..Do What Makes Ya Happy WeekendMy Profile

  4. says

    Christine, I love this! When Will originally wanted to date me but lived in CA, he send me a love letter and it absolutely melted me :) To this day, he writes me a real letter every month on the anniversary date of our first date, and it’s my absolute favorite thing. There is nothing like old fashioned, pen-to-paper words to express emotion!
    Colorado Gal recently posted..Mizuno Wave Kazan: ReviewMy Profile

  5. says

    I too have a long love affair with writing letters but oddly enough, I loved writing letters to people I didn’t know. I used to be a pen pal for about 12 military men and women. I didn’t really know them but I loved thinking my letter, in some way, made their day better.
    Katie recently posted..New Balance Fresh Foam Trail Shoe ReviewMy Profile

  6. says

    Love everything about this! I fear the art of writing letters will be lost on future generations, so I’m doing my best to pass this down to my daughters. One of the things I miss terribly about my grandmother is the letters we would write to each other. All through college and beyond, my grandmother and I exchanged letters. I’ll never forget a letter she sent me my freshman year of college with $3 taped inside for ‘a burger and a Coke.’
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Portuguese Prayer of the WoodsMy Profile

  7. says

    My gosh, that is the cutest. I LOVE his letter and I love that you and your husband would email a lot at the start. M took out the first emails between us from match the other day and we re-read them together. and it just made me smile. Loved reading this friend!
    Jolene recently posted..A year later, yet so much more.My Profile

  8. says

    I love letters. I try to write 3 handwritten ones and send them a week. I know people love getting them and I love sending them. Its so fun. I started with a pen-pal when I was just 9 and we still write at 32!

  9. says

    Oh, gosh, this is so precious! I haven’t really written letters in ages. My husband and I used to send each other letters all the time before we were married. I used to write letters to my grandparents, and letters home and to friends when I was away at summer camp, but now it’s all by Facebook. :-P
    Coco recently posted..Running In Washington DCMy Profile

  10. says

    I love that Jasper writes you letters. Sweetest thing ever.

    I was a prolific letter writer when I was in my teens well into my college years. Email took over eventually :)
    Alison recently posted..20 StrangersMy Profile

  11. says

    I haven’t written letters in so long but now I want to get back to it! I love letters and I love mail and I miss mail now that email is the way. A friend of my daughter’s moved to Switzerland last year and we always said we’d do a pen pal thing. I think this afternoon I’ll introduce her to the magic of letter writing.
    Tricia recently posted..I went to the grocery store. Alone.My Profile

  12. says

    BEAUTIFUL. And I bet your zuchene muttenes are amazing.

    Sometimes when we’re most frustrated is when our kids deliver the biggest sucker punch of total and utter LOVE.

    This post is great. I still think you should convince the family that another month in Hawaii is necessary, though. ;)
    Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted..Scenes from a weekend #33My Profile

  13. says

    Love this! How adorable!! I am a teacher and i recently had my students write letters to their favorite disney characters (and they write back!) we addressed an envelope, wrote the letter, etc . It was so basic , so easy, so relaxing and yet so rewarding :) We need to stop and slow down with everything around us so crazy!

    Thank you for sharing.
    I do not really write letters. I think i will start sending postcards from vacation places to people however, cute idea, right?

    Also, i journal. that is my writing :)
    Diana recently posted..Links I My Profile

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