The Love Letter: A Lost Art?

A few weekends ago I spent some time with my grandparents in New Jersey.

The experience was full-on FFJD - chocolate chip cookies, RHONJ-esque ladies at the next lunch table over with frosted tips, highlights (just anything and everything frosted) lots of guilt, discussion of what we were going to eat next, whether or not I was dating someone and if so what his height/ weight/ DOB/ occupation was.

I showed my grandparents photos of my friends, (explaining Rent the Runway), and also Twitter. As I explained microblogging, Retweeting, and hashtags, my grandmother took it to mean that everyone only got 140 characters, ever, as sort of a character allowance to everyone would just go around tweeting one letter or two until you hit 140 and you were donezo. Which might not be a bad idea (looking at you, Chris Brown.)

As we ate, and then thought about eating, and then decided what we were going to eat next, I thought about my grandparents' 56-year relationship.

My grandmother recited my grandfather's social security number for something on the phone, I scanned the walls for pictures of them throughout the decades. (Mostly just also for the ones of me as a baby, when I was bald for about the first year of my life. My parents were worried I'd be permanently bald, but luckily I have very long hair now. Crisis averted.)

Down in the storage below the condominium floors, my grandmother and I sifted through things to bring to my new apartment. (Not that I could really carry it back along Amtrak...can you imagine? "Hey, I'm here in the Cafe Car Mom, with three end-tables.")

There was a box of letters, and I saw out of the corner of my eye one addressed to my grandmother, from my grandfather, when she was away at college.

All I could see was one sentence peeking out from the letter: "How I miss you." There were dozens of letters that my grandmother had saved. (Along with my hand-drawn birthday cards, most of which included my childhood obsession with drawing people with belly buttons.)

I recognize I'm getting all Nicholas Sparks on your asses, but hear me out.

The love letter is for all intents and purposes is gone. Do we have anything to replace it?

A thoughtful email, a thoughtful text? The amount of work and thought that went in to a letter - paper, writing, postage, mailing, waiting, is there something comparable? Nothing really comes to mind.

Now I guess there is some effort involved in calling someone, but it just doesn't hold the same cache as the written word. Maybe you've sent a thoughtful email or two, but hitting the send button is far simpler than a pen and paper. We don't even know what our friends, colleagues, or boyfriends handwriting looks like either.

Maybe we need to take a page (literally) from past displays of affection and pick up a pen.

What do you think?


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