If not for the colonial postal system, newcomers to the frontier soon to be known as New Mexico would not have kept up with relatives to the south in Mexico or those overseas in Spain.
It is National Card and Letter Writing Month, designated by the U.S. Postal Service in 2001 as a way to honor and celebrate the efforts going into the mail service.
Callum Sharp is a writer and editor based in Vancouver, Canada. He penned a column on the subject for the Writing Cooperative, noting letter writing has been largely supplanted by digital technology, but letters are far more thought-provoking and personal than a text or email.
“I think a lot of people would like to get a real letter,” Sharp contended. “I mean, it’s a lost art form these days, because technology really has stopped us writing by hand. There’s like a lot more thought that goes into writing a letter than sending a text.”
Americans have lots of choice when it comes to sending packages, but only the U.S. Postal Service is responsible for the delivery of letters in the United States.
Sharp pointed out he regularly writes letters to his grandmother, and knows taking the time to stamp and post those letters can make them invaluable possessions. He added handwriting is one of the few things today which can be difficult to do with distraction, and instead, requires focus and attention.
“You have to sit down, you have to sort-of like think before you put your pen onto paper,” Sharp outlined. “And there’s just a lot more intention up front and a lot more, I think, love and care that goes into a message that you send to someone. And I think that can have a real impact on the relationship you manage to build.”
Letters can be traced back to ancient India, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and China, primarily used to self-educate throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Sharp added he keeps a couple typewriters for the purpose of letter writing, which has other perks.
“So, one of the joys of it is being able to go to the stationery store, and being able to buy nice paper and buy a new pen every once in a while, or pick up another typewriter,” Sharp explained. “That’s all part and parcel of the experience of writing correspondence.”