Staying in touch: A letter a day keeps the parents away

Elsa Maishman 6 February 2015

Coming to University, I thought I would keep in contact with my family back home with all things ‘techy’. Being a general technophobe, I studied the ins and outs of Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and Snapchat and then gave my parents intensive crash courses in how to use them, so we could all be synced and some modern type of family. Now nearly halfway through my second term, it just hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, I have gone down a very different route: I have written letters.

There is something special about written words – something in the way that you can play with them on the page. At University, because we use them so often for essays and notes, I have found that many people have forgotten that words can be made so much more significant. They aren’t just there to write about Darwin’s theory of evolution or the life cycle of a flower.

Writing letters makes words more meaningful. When writing to my parents, I try to be poetic, creative and to capture a moment in time. Even if my parents get the letter a week later, I know that that moment will still be on the paper instead of lost in conversation. Ink has a way to express your deepest thoughts in a way that typing cannot.

I somehow feel that through my inky words, my parents are literally seeing and holding me, with only a paper-thin barrier between us. Even though they cannot physically touch me, a computer or phone screen seems like a much greater distance than a letter.

There are probably selfish reasons I write home too; I love getting replies. The postman makes me more excited than Santa Claus ever did, and seeing the unmistakable piece of paper in my pigeon hole gives me enough motivation to get through the day. The letter needn’t say anything important per se, but it’s just that age old saying that it’s the thought that counts, and the fact that my parents took the time to respond to my page of scribblings.

Call me old-fashioned, but I just can’t help but love the wonder of it all. People say a picture is a thousand words, but I would disagree. Words express passion and passion is powerful, more powerful than anything else. So, pick up a pen and write home to your parents. We use so many words in the day, spare a few and make them special.