Letter Writing: a lost art or a lasting tradition

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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By William H. Baker

Contributing Writer

If you discuss with family and friends the topic of letter writing, you are likely to find some in today’s generation who don’t know much about the art of writing letters. They are more likely to know about email, texting, Twitter, and a variety of modern means of communicating.

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It is apparent that modern technology has changed for most of us our writing habits, in both our personal lives and in the business world.

Regardless of the changes, there are many people who will tell you that even in 2020 letter writing is an important means of communication. Whether handwritten or printed on paper, a letter is important because it is a written conversation between two parties.

The second full week in January is National Letter Writing Week, and it seems a good time to talk about the art of letter writing and why it is important to all of us, young and old alike.

Historically, writing has been viewed as important for public school and college and university students. Why? Because it helps the individual think through the topic, consider the reason for the note or letter, identify important points to include, learn how to be precise in expression, and to be an editor and proofreader for his or her own work.

As individuals, most of us like to receive messages (notes and letters) from family and friends. There is still something special about getting a letter in the mail.

Keep that thought in mind, particularly if you are discussing the topic with children, grandchildren or other young people.

Remind them of the joy their grandparents or other relatives will have when they open a written note of thanks for a Christmas present or other gift. And for those of us who are more mature, we need to be reminded of the importance of sharing with our extended families. So many memories can be easily lost if we fail to share.

And for those who are working or who are seeking employment, write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life. Maybe someone who helped as a reference for your employment or someone who has supported you in in your work.

There are endless opportunities for letter writing for adults. Write the newspaper editor about a topic that you believe is important in your community. Send a note to your pastor or priest for exemplary service to your church. Surprise a friend or relative serving in the military to say you are grateful for that service. Do the same for your Mayor or other elected officials.

On the family level, remember the older folks whether they are near or far away. Make their day with a letter or note of appreciation for their support and encouragement through the years.

William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former resident of Middlesboro. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu