Thursday 28 August 2014

Communicating the 'Old Fashioned Way' by letter

I question I get asked a lot when I'm out either drinking coffee or sitting on a bench in a mall is 'Excuse me, are you writing letters?' usually followed by a conversation about how they wished people would write more rather than email or face book and when I suggest maybe they should just write a letter and see what happens, it is usually answered with 'I don't have the time/I don't know what to write'

I'm always writing letters, sending post cards, even when we go on a day trip, but I write far more than I ever receive. There are 3 reasons for this.

1. The post is stolen or binned.
2. Some people seem to think that a 'like' on face book when tagged to say a letter is on the way is communication.
3. Something I hear when asked 'why don't you write back?' is 'I've nothing to say' Well say that then on a postcard, at least I know you've made an effort.
There's nothing more upsetting than having waited 2 weeks to visit the post box to discover it empty and I know I get THAT look from the staff when I check the box sometimes daily on the off chance someone has written me a letter.

I keep every letter written to me since we've been in South Africa, it's a diary of our time here and while not interesting for anyone else right now, maybe in a 100 years it will be. I also add a photo copy of every letter I write back.

I carry a selection of pens and note paper, post cards and stamps in my handbag, as I'm always 'in the middle' of writing a letter to someone.

My Mother writes and we phone weekly, we also chat on face book nearly every day. I send letters, postcards, small gifts back to the children in the UK, the 19yo always acknowledges, but then we chat daily, like I do with my Mother. I have 2 pen pals I met on twitter, One I met 4 years ago, just the once, the other I've yet to meet. We exchange letters with on a regular basis and we also chat on twitter and face book. Sometimes it is difficult to find something to write about that hasn't already been read in a blog post, so these letters are a bit more personal. There are other tweeters I write to and write back, unfortunately letters seem to go missing when leaving or arriving in South Africa and it has become a bit of a challenge to see what gets through and that's half the fun sometimes.

The next batch of letters are being sent back to the UK with they youngest child next week, every time anyone leaves South Africa they are given a pile of post to take with them.

Even before life as an expat, I wrote, sent cards, visited the older generation with a physical photo album.

Do you still write letters? Send birthday cards? Post cards? or do you prefer to use email? Social Media? Send E cards?

How do you communicate with people who don't use the internet, the older generation? Like Aunty Mary for instance?

Am I on my own here?


  1. One of the reason I will never give up writing Christmas cards, I thoroughly enjoy it. Plus I make everyone in the family sign the card, I refuse to sign their name, even if it means I have to start our cards in October being that two of them are away at school.

    Lovely seeing I have a "red" binder. :-)

  2. I used to write a letter to my gran each week. When she passed away, my uncle gave them all back to me...bound with a ribbon, the way she kept them. You could tell that they had been read over and over.