Saturday, October 23, 2010

A lost Art

 My son Nikhil recently turned 8.  The night before his birthday, I wrote a short letter to him telling him how much I loved him and how proud I was of him.  I placed the envelope  in his homework folder so when he opened it up in school, he would  get a surprise.   The mothers reading this are thinking, "Oh sooo sweet!!"     The men reading this are saying, "God help her son!"   

When Nikhil came home from school that day, I asked if he saw anything special in his bag.   As only a typical male would respond, he said,  "Oh yeah, thanks Mom."  So much for my tears and staying up at night writing the letter.   But I'm glad I did it!  As a matter of fact,  I'm going to do it every year on their birthdays, even when they say "God, Mom really?  I'm not a kid any more!"

During the summer of 1928, the late Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal  Nehru wrote many letters to his then 10 year old daughter Indira (Gandhi).  

"  I am going to write you short accounts of the story of our earth and the many countries, great and small, into which it is   divided  I hope [these] will make you think of the world as a whole and of other people in it as our brothers and sisters . . ."

In all,  he wrote some 30 letters to her that summer .   I can't image the thrill she must have felt while  tearing open each letter knowing that her father,  who was  hundreds of miles away,  had sent this personal gift to her.  It contained his writing,  his emotion, his love.  Imagine looking  at the letters years later, after her father passed away and  thinking back to the day when she actually received it.   What memories and feeling it must have evoked.  I love history and nothing teaches more about the past  then old letters.   They take us back to a time….to a place…to a life.

Today it seems everyone is too busy to write letters anymore.   Letter writing is an old lost art.  Except for the quick email or text, most people don’t  actually put the pen to the paper anymore.   The most thought or emotion we  show is in our preprinted  Hallmark cards are,  “Love,  John Doe.”    And oh, and let’s not forget the very heartfelt and classy, ”XOXO!!”   Are we really that busy?  Or have we just forgotten how to write? 

The  Hallmark company has become very profitable.  The irony of it all is  that if someone today were to take time and effort to write us a short letter rather than buy a card, we would be inclined to believe that they were just being frugal…to put it nicely.  Cheap is the other word  I was thinking!    Come on now, be honest,  how often do we flip the card to see how much the  card cost.   I have to be honest and say that  I always go for the cheapest one….because I know it’s going in the trash anyway!!

This might sound silly but I still have an old note that my sister wrote to me when she was about 6 and I was 16.   She had  jumped on me while I was laying on the bed and I got very upset with her.   She wrote that it was an “axcident”  and  I was to circle  “YES”  if I forgave her and “NO”  if I didn’t.    I chuckle, at this moment, as I write this because I can actually remember that day .   I really beat her.  (XOXO Bina!!)

That’s the beauty of  a handwritten  piece of  writing.   I might be able to save all  the cute  emails I get in my “SAVED” folder  or on my  computer.    But nothing can compare to the joy of opening an old letter written by a father to a daughter, mother to a son or a friend to another friend.   Touching those old  letters is like being with and touching the person who wrote it. 

 It saddens me to think of what the implications of this new trend in our society means to the future generations.  I hope my sons will save whatever letters I write to them and be able to talk about how mom was so mushy!!

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