Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

August 15, 2010

For the love of letters

There's something very special about a hand written letter, but I wonder if it is soon to become something of a museum relic as our technology-savvy children tap merrily away on their iPhones, iPads and laptops, barely able to grasp a pen between their Playstation-infected thumbs?

Letters are fascinating, wonderful things. Volumes of books have been written, based purely on the exchange of letters; be they between lovers, historical figures, famous writers or just between friends. These historical records of bygone times make for fascinating reading and provide a very personal insight into people's lives which I can only assume will be virtually impossible to get through rediscovered blog sites and Facebook pages in decades to come.

An excellent article in last Saturday's Guardian highlighted one mother's concern about the fact that the only interactions she has with her teenages sons are via texts, emails, Facebook pages, iPods and mobile phones. A worry no doubt shared by many parents of teenagers. A worry shared by me - a parent of pre-schoolers.

In these gadget-infested times, I find it really quite sad that my children won't know the joy of a letter falling on the doormat. I've written before about holding back on The Stuff which ever threatens to engulf our lives and although I'm not luddite enough to think I can resist technology completely in my children's lives, I really feel I owe it to them to continue the tradition of letter writing - in and amongst the typed words and abbreviations and LOLs and Gr8s and whatever else is heading my way.

I remember the joy of receiving a handwritten envelope addressed to me from my German pen friend. I remember the foreign, unfamiliar stamps being exciting, let alone the strange looking handwriting of a German girl, the same age as me, and her simple tales of life in a foreign country. As soon as my children can write, I'm going to encourage them to have a pen friend - a 'real' pen friend who they write real letters to with an actual pen!

What do you think? Do your children write letters? Do they receive letters? Or does it actually matter, as long as they are communicating? Answers on a hand written postcard please....!



  1. I totally agree. My 2 1/2 year old and I still write letters to Grandmas. I plan on him having a real letter writing friend when he is old enough too. As wonderful as tech is, I believe that teaching children to cherish the simple things in life helps make all of life more important.

  2. I wrote a post about handwritten letters last year, and it's still one of the most searched keywords on my blog stats. I feel sad that we have no written memories anymore, and I can't imagine why my own daughters would write me a letter.

  3. I also read that article in the Guardian. I thought the mother made light of the situation...rather depressing. I have to prize the phone off my eldest daughter (12) at bedtime. Most of her generation are glued to their phones. I've noticed texts sent to her at 1 or 2 in the morning...and others sent throughout the day during school classes! At least my youngest 2 can still write lovely thankyou letters for Birthday gifts etc.

  4. I have a box that I keep letters I've received in. It's sad that I've not put anything in that box for ages.
    I'll definitely make sure that when she's old enough my little girl hand writes her Christmas and birthday thank you letters.

  5. I love love LOVE hand written letters.

    When my parents recently relocated, my father presented me with a HUGE bag of bundled up letters I had received and kept during my teenage years. Along with all my diaries.

    I have re-read a few and they are both cringe-worthy but also incredibly wonderful treasures.

    We keep up the tradition and our kids write cards and letters to relatives and friends at all opportunities. I just hope it will continue into their later life as well.

    LCM x

  6. I agree totally and that's why I started the Penpal club. Here it the link to my blog for it - great minds think alike - sorry for posting a link in your comments!

  7. I threw all my letters out recently in a major clear-out - around 7 or 8 shoe-boxes full. I did find it terribly sad that they hadn't been filled in quite a few years now! Sign of the times I fear another one of those things that seem to be slowly dying out, which I think is what makes still receiving a hand-written letter so much more precious.

  8. I have a cousin whom I am very close to. We always lived in different countries and used to write letters to each other. When I received a letter from her I would go to my bedroom, shut the door and shut off from everything and read. I treasured those letters. I used to move from country to country due to my fathers job but I always took those letters with me. the last time I received a letter was probably 20 years ago. Sad!

  9. I also love letters, I write regularly to my mum and I have signed up to a penpal club and have a new penpal! I always write than you letters and cards and at the moment I write them from Piran too, although when he is older I will encourage him to do them himself. I wrote a post about the same thing, with a little twist!

  10. I've put my answer on a postcard, but while it's winging its way to you I'll comment here! I don't think my daughter has ever written a letter apart from a letter to Father Christmas. We should write more letters, I agree. I used to write lots. I wrote one to a friend a few months back and received a reply via email! Sign of the times I guess. It's a shame really.

  11. This brings me back. I had pen-pals too as a kid and it was really special for me. My kids never write letters. It's a real shame XXX

  12. I have favorite pens and special stationary that I write with and really enjoy writing hand written letters. I write to all the older generation in my family and to a few friends still. I also text to some of those family members and friends but Never do anyone in the my family text or email Thank Yous. That is taboo.

    It is lovely to get a card in the box and I hope I have transfered that to my children. My sons handwriting is dire but at least he writes with a pen on paper to family. So what if they can't read it, it's the thought that counts- isn't it?

  13. Little L is too young to write herself, obviously, but she loves receiving postcards and I have to read them over and over and all over again to her.

  14. You have motivated me to send a letter and pic to Elf's first penpal. He met a 6 year old French boy at Centerparcs in France in June and I promised to send a letter and haven't. Thank you. -HMx
    PS am I the only one who feels guilty for not feeling guilty not sending happy bday messages on Facebook?


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