Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Memory Lane Wednesday: Pen Pals

Not long ago, I had an old pen pal find me on Facebook. I was so excited to hear from her, as it has been a couple years or more since we'd written letters. I mean, real letters. None of that e-mail crap.

I started writing to pen pals in 6th grade. My history teacher told us about a program that matched kids based on similar interests after filling out a form. My first pen pal was from Canada, and we wrote back and forth for several years. After that, I had pen pals from several countries, including Greece, Italy, England, and Ghana. 

For a long time, those letters were my only real mail that I received. I'm not counting cards that family sent me for Christmas or my birthday. I mean, until you live on your own, you really don't get mail. And even then, it's bills. Sick joke that is. I looked forward to getting those letters. It was so nice to get a letter. A real letter.

AF in England is the one who found me on Facebook. I don't know how long it took her to find me as I know there are hundreds of people with my name. I'm glad she did, though. I squealed with delight when I saw the friend request from her. She and I wrote for probably close to 10 years, and our biggest shared love was horses. She and I could easily write letters that were 2-4 pages long, sharing what went on in our lives.

Nowadays I forget what it's like to receive a real life letter. I get some Christmas cards in the mail every year, and a few birthday cards. But no letters. It's kind of sad, really. It seems to be a lost art form. We went from handwritten letters to e-mails to Facebook and MySpace. I've even gotten bad at just e-mailing.

My pen pal letters used to bring big smiles to my face and I couldn't wait to open them up to see what was new their part of the world. I miss that. Not that I'm not happy to be able to keep up with AF on Facebook or anything, because I am. And communication is a lot faster that way. And I don't miss having to run to the Post Office to make sure I got enough postage for an overseas letter. Because trust me, it takes forever for the mail to get it back to you if you don't have enough postage on it.

Even though technology makes it easier and faster for all of us to communicate, I miss sitting down and writing a letter to my pen pals. And I miss getting their handwritten ones. I'm sure there will come a generation when they won't even learn to write, they'll just type. And then it will all be lost. Sending and receiving letters will probably be a long lost art form for years to come. But I had fun while it lasted. And that's what matters most.


  1. When my oldest granddaugter went off to college this year, I began writing letters to her. She was so thrilled, and I am glad it made her happy. I communicate with her on Facebook too, but it isn't the same.

  2. I have never written a proper letter by hand. Most men are practical at heart, and with the ability to contact that person at any time for free, handwriting seems obsolete. Such convenience comes at a subtle price, as each digital word continues to mean a little less.

  3. I love letters. I love getting things in the mail that aren't bills or flyers. Writing letters is one of my favorite things to do. I do it for friends all the time. I'm a postcard person too. I love sending them whenever I am away. Sometimes I'll even send them to friends who don't live near me. Thanks for sharing that.

  4. I'd have loved to have a pen pal when I was younger! And you're right, getting letters feels great. I love writing them. Its old fashioned and romantic :)

    Hazel xxx

  5. I loved sending letters and still send cards for no reason at all...I'm addicted to cards. I spend too much money on cards! haha. I know that feeling though. When mail comes and it is anything other than a bill/a credit card application/or an advertizement it just brightens your day.

    I have long wanted to start a letter writing...or card charing group...just a group of people who want to get fun mail...we start an address pool and every week it is one person's turn and they get a whole bunch of cool cards and messages. How nice does that sound!?

  6. Belle - My mom would send me little notes sometimes; it would make my day. :o)

    Drake - Not really surprised to hear you've never written a proper letter (by hand). But you're right, seems like it's becoming obsolete. Sad.

    Rita - It was such a fun thing, I'm glad I did it. If I ever make it to England, I have hopes of meeting AF.

    Hazel - It was fun! My hand would cramp up sometimes, but, it was still fun writing letters. lol

    Jewels - That would be fun! Not sure if I could afford postage, though! lol But it does sound nice. :o)

  7. At one point, I knew a guy who did postcrossing. He had joined an online community and used his PO box to send and recieve postcards from people around the world. I believe he had postcards from over 70 countries. It was his hobby. I loved looking through these cards; pictures of Chine, Greece, Hungary, Chile, England, Morocco, Brazil, India, Russia, and even Japan covered his walls. He collected them. He knew the first name of who had sent him each and every one. His name was Erik.

    I haven't heard from him in over 4 years, and I have always wondered what had happened to him. I used to talk with him consstantly, and then I moved. I wonder if he's completed his goal, to get a postcard from each country. He was my best friend.

    He was a year older than me; he'd probably be 17 or 18 by now. Back then, he'd been collecting for over 2 years. At six years, maybe he finally got the post card from Italy he'd always wanted.

    We never kept in touch. I really wish we had, but as a foster kid snailmail just isn't feasible. ;( I wish it was....

  8. Mythic Demon - I've never heard of postcrossing before. Sounds very interesting, though! Sorry to hear you lost touch with your friend; it's never easy to lose touch with friends, no matter the reason. Maybe you could find him on MySpace or Facebook?


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