Why a Handwritten Letter is the Best Gift You Can Give Your Valentine

Filed in Who Supports Your Writing Dreams? by on February 13, 2014 • views: 3073

I’m willing to bet that most every woman has a secret.

It’s in a box under the bed, or at the top of the closet, or in the bottom of a drawer.

If not a box, it’s in an old manila envelope, worn and ragged at the edges, or a cloth bag tied with ribbon.

Whatever the container, inside you’ll find the same thing—a collection of handwritten letters from old boyfriends. (Men keep letters from old girlfriends, too—read this touching story.)

This is probably changing for the younger generation, now that it seems pens are just a few years away from becoming obsolete. A 2012 survey found that just four percent of men (and six percent of women) still write love letters.

But in thousands of households across this country, I can almost guarantee these containers of letters are there, waiting to be opened again one day, when bones have thinned and vision blurred and more of life hangs behind than lies ahead. Held in trembling hands, they will once again cause a quickening of the heartbeat, and bring a smile to wrinkled lips.

There’s a reason people keep these letters long after the boyfriends or girlfriends are gone. Sure, some may be burned along the way to purge painful memories, but hidden in the corners of a long life are always one or two—or more—because letters come from the body, from the heart to the hand, the hand to the pen, and the pen to the paper, capturing true human emotion. And like the way a song takes you back to a moment in time, or a scent can hurl you into another place in an instant, a piece of fragile paper marked with words in ink can recreate the thrill and warmth of what it felt like to be loved.

“I more than love you, I’m not whole without you. You are life itself to me. When you are gone I’m waiting for you to return so I can start living again.”

So wrote President Ronald Reagan to his wife, Nancy. He wrote a number of these beautiful letters, as did a lot of other famous folks, like Ludwig van Beethoven, Napoleon, Georgia O’Keefe, Ernest Hemingway, and King Henry the VIII. President George H. Bush was also fond of writing letters to Barbara. A partial quote from one:

“This should be a very easy letter to write—words should come easily and in short it should be simple for me to tell you how desperately happy I was to open the paper and see the announcement of our engagement, but somehow I can’t possibly say all in a letter I should like to. I love you, precious, with all my heart and to know that you love me means my life. How often I have thought about the immeasurable joy that will be ours some day. How lucky our children will be to have a mother like you -“

Love Letters in the Movie “Her”

There were a lot of reasons to like the movie “Her,” and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one struck by the uniqueness of Theodore’s job—that of a professional writer of love letters. The movie is set in the future, when technology has taken over even more of the human landscape, and in the midst of all the bits and bites, people hire Theodore to express the emotions they either can’t or no longer want to take the time to express on their own. He reviews their stories and pictures and puts together beautiful words and phrases that are then formatted by computer and sent to the specified receiver.

It made me wonder—do we have companies like this already, those who do our most intimate communicating for us? Turns out we do, and lots of them. A simple Google search turns up a horde of writers happy to produce letters for a fee.

Don’t want to pay? You can find love letter templates—just drop in the correct names and dates, and presto, intimate communication complete. Check.

Next?

Love is Something That We Do

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how technology has taken the personal connection out of things. We don’t pick up the phone anymore. We talk to “friends” more on the computer than face-to-face. We don’t even know who our neighbors are. We break up and make up by text message. Everything is about convenience and speed.

The thing we seem to have forgotten is that real romance takes time and effort. I love that old Clint Black song—Something That We Do. Who among us doesn’t appreciate the personal gesture, the idea that someone made a real effort on our behalf, rather than just slapping down a couple bucks for a card, some flowers or a box of candy? Any gesture of affection is lovely, but to really remain in your sweetheart’s mind and heart for more than five minutes—maybe even for a quarter century or more—write him or her a handwritten letter.

According to a 2011 national survey of women ages 18 to 70, such a letter is the most sought-after romantic gift. Roughly two-thirds of women polled said their “most cherished gift on Valentine’s Day would be a letter in the handwriting of their beloved, sealed in an envelope and mailed or delivered.”

Think you’re too clumsy to manage on your own? Spelling, grammar, neatness—none of that matters whatsoever. Words committed to paper—your words, expressing your unique thoughts and feelings—hold the key to your loved one’s heart. Whatever your words are, don’t judge them. If they’re truly heartfelt, to someone who loves you, they’ll be counted among the most precious of gifts.

Odds are, that letter will be one of the receiver’s most cherished possessions for years to come.

Maybe even stored alone in that special box.

“…Love’s not just something that we’re in, it’s something that we do.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

© Jolin | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

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