Letters from Home

Rare are the handwritten missives that used to cross oceans and continents, bringing news and love from, or to, home.

I dreamed recently that it was already time to return to Dublin and though it was months from now, I was hand-delivering a letter I’ve already been working on for about six weeks. I took the dream as a wake-up call (sorry, terrible pun) but still haven’t sent – or finished – that letter.

I’m enjoying all news from home — calls on Messenger, emails, Facebook updates — but there really is something about envelopes arriving in the mailbox outside our door. We’ve received a few cards and a couple of letters, and all have been read with joy.

My son just put together a small package for a friend in Dublin, finding sendable treasures that are part of his life here. Coins, pins, a badge from the local GeekCon last weekend, a hat with a First Nations design embroidered on it, other items he knows his friend will enjoy. Of course sweets ‘that you can’t get in Ireland’ had to go in, too. I even managed to tuck in a short letter for his mama: I hope she can read the scrawl.


Called a vintage speakeasy door grille, it sounds even cooler than it already was.

I have always loved receiving personal mail from the time — probably before I could read — we got a free Pop Tarts sample through the cast iron mail slot on the front door in Hardwick Street. The mail slot had a little door that you could open from the inside and see through the grille who was outside.

Our next home was in the country with a mailbox on a post by the side of the road. You put your own letter in to post it, turned the box 90 degrees, and the mail person would collect it for you. If they left mail in it, the box would still be at 90 degrees.

In the 12 storey apartment block I lived in in Brussels, my friend and co-worker and I had an unspoken race to the mailboxes on the ground floor each morning. There was a choice of three elevators and sometimes if we both were in the same one, when the door opened we’d push each other aside to get to the mail. I’m sure the other, more cosmopolitan residents were impressed.

Friends tell of their parents’ courting days in Dublin, when the suitor would send a note in the morning requesting his beloved meet him for lunch that day; her reply would be sent by return post confirming their rendezvous; clearly it all worked out.

There are websites listing the benefits of penning real letters, with reasons ranging from improving hand writing (mine seems to worsen with the length of the letter, so no benefit there) and honouring tradition, to showing how much you care or making you feel good yourself.

If the thoughts of thinking of what to say, putting your words onto paper, actually stamping and addressing an envelope and getting it into a mailbox seem daunting to you, hesitate no more: help is at hand, in the form of The Indian Handwritten Letter Company who will do all of that for you, on fine paper no less.

Their services are especially appealing if you also value irony. Their website says that “a handwritten letter shows how much time you must have invested in coming up with the exact words” although they will do that for you too; you just give them an idea of what you want to say. Instructions on their form read “type your message here, like you mean it”.

We all agree that “when, and if a person gets one such beautiful gift, it’s always a welcome surprise which also makes you feel important in the life of the sender. As he/she has spent so much time and energy in coming up with a handwritten letter so beautiful.” Again, you have to appreciate that irony.

They are absolutely right, though: “A well drafted handwritten letter on a high-quality paper in a beautiful handwriting always makes a better impression.”

I’ll be working on the handwriting and on finishing that letter. Maybe I’ll even make a better impression by sending out a few more.

One thought on “Letters from Home

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