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The handful of readers who follow my blog may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything since April. I have no excuses except life gets in the way. Sometimes, in a big way. Aside from pages of notes, I haven’t added any new pages to my current ms, but I am writing.

Letters.

I write two to three letters a week to my friend Nan. She’s always been a faithful letter writer. Our correspondence began during summer breaks when we were in college. I remember looking forward to mail call when I spent the summer abroad in Taiwan. A newsy letter from Nan was something I could count on.

Three decades later, her missives are still arriving in my mailbox. I should point out that my friend is a stationery aficionado, so the numerous letters she sends me may only serve to justify her obsession to add to her ever-growing collection.

I’m obsessed with paper, too. I always note of the quality of cardboard shipping boxes that arrive on my doorstep, and I have a weird interest in food service paper and containers. (I will address that subject in a different post.) But as far as stationery, I’m partial to New Yorker cartoon cards, funny postcards and discounted card sets from Paper Source and Papyrus. 

Nan prefers the good stuff from venerable sources such as Mrs. John L. Strong, Smythson of Bond Street (paper purveyors to the Royal family), and Dempsey and Carroll. 

The clank of the mailbox flap next to my front door heralds the possibility of another letter. Among the bills, catalogs and junk mail, I search for an envelope of heavy, quality stock paper.

The envelope is like a carefully gift-wrapped package. The return address is never hand written, but denoted by a custom made stamp or label. Even the postage stamp is carefully chosen to match the style of the stationery. The envelope is almost always lined with tissue or paper. The notecards, either letter pressed or embossed, are filled with her familiar scrawl written with a fountain pen.

I know it’s easier to pick up the phone or fire off an email to someone. We live in an age where we maintain personal connections via Twitter and Facebook. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer snail mail. I appreciate that someone has taken the time to write me a letter, apply a stamp, and mail it when they could have easily fired off an email. Writing a letter is fast becoming a lost art.

Over the years, Nan has gifted me with notecard sets, Italian blotting papers, letter openers, and even a Waterman pen. While I am a grateful recipient of her generosity, it’s her letters I treasure most.

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

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