This past week I finished reading Cranford, an interesting fiction about the daily lives of women in a small town, written by Elizabeth Gaskell. It was a quaint little thing. I actually enjoyed it. (I write ‘actually’ because my first impression of the unnamed-until-page-136 narrator was that of horror – why don’t we know her name??)
But one section in particular drew my attention.
Miss Matty (a central character) goes through the loss of her sister. During her grieving process, she burns a bunch of family letters. Now at book club last night we talked about how it’s probably because Miss Matty wouldn’t want anyone else reading them once she’s gone. It’s a privacy thing. I get that. I understand where she’s coming from, and it makes sense that she’d do such a thing.
Personally, though, I hated it.
Pure and simple.
Hatred poured out of me.
She burned letters? HER LETTERS? Something a loved one crafted specially for you, a hand-written note containing memories and insights?
I would never do such a thing. In fact, if you look in my closet, or on my shelves, you’d see boxes containing all of the personal letters I’ve received.
Because they help me remember the past… the past friendships I’ve had, the past relationships I’ve been in, the memories I’ve long since forgotten. Plus, someone took the time to craft the letters. I want to honor that time by keeping them safe for as long as possible.
In this day and age we don’t really write letters anymore. We have email, texting, instant communication via the internet. Who would wait a week to get a letter… or more? Our spelling and grammar has gotten worse because of the text-speak, but that’s a whole different story. They’re not even teaching cursive in schools anymore. (Though must confess, I hardly use cursive when I write letters… only when I sign my name. How will the kids sign their names?)
I think it’s just a bit sad though. We still get mail. But now, instead of letters from friends and relatives, we get junk, bills, and advertisements. Nothing… exciting.
Well, I aim to bring the exciting back. I challenge the blogosphere, the internet, nay the WORLD to write one letter to someone – a friend, a relative, heck even a college from times gone past – and mail it. It doesn’t cost that much, and just think of the random burst of happiness that person will get once they receive it.
What will do you do?