Handcrafted from Afar

Rebekah - San Luis Obispo, California
Entered on November 12, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

From ball point pens to pencils and a computer keyboard to a touch-screen on a handheld device, there are endless forms of communication. Throughout history, pens have tied friends, enemies, and families together. We all remember the history of our Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence with quill pens. And if it were not for John and Abigail Adams’ letters we would not have the detailed personal and American history records that we have today. We then watched the creation of ball point pens, and now finally, ink smudges have vanished as the computer keyboard has evolved into the most popular method of verse. Hand-written letters can take many forms, but especially within this technology-based society, I believe that it is pens that personally bond people together.

There is something about the hand-written letters that my Grandpa sends me once a month. The very act of anticipating the mailman’s delivery is something to which I have become accustomed. For me, it is more than just the slanted cursive or the cliché printed on the greeting card accompanied by an endearing puppy. It is more than just the words on the cardstock, but rather the meaning behind the words- a gesture of his heart and love, and an investment of his valuable time.

Since there is no character or individuality in printed notes, one’s handwriting can develop into a story that goes beyond words. Whether it is the curvy letters filled with loops, or the small space between the words, hand-written notes are special in the sense that no two are alike, similar to one’s signature or fingerprint. The intimate appeal of a letter is something that is sacred and special to my heart, as I can imagine the author, my grandpa, sitting down in the plaid blue and green chair in his den, and thinking about me while composing.

The act of writing by hand slows the mind and compels it into a more meditative state in which specifically chosen words express a hint of emotion. Given the fact that there are hindrances in writing letters such as stationery and stamp costs, the time and care in preparation, and the lack of immediacy, many turn to e-mails or text messages to fill that void. One thing for certain, letters can be savored and kept for years to come, unlike their electronic counterparts.

It is no doubt that one’s hand-writing can foretell their emotions, thoughts, and care for the recipient, as there is something so private about receiving a handwritten note. With no specific format or prescribed length, even a short hand-written sentence can have more of a heart-pulling impact than a printed look a-like.

I have kept his letters for many years, reread them often, and relish the memories that we have had. On a more personal note, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.” More than just writing about present times, it is because of personal letters that we have seen history unfold and tales told. Once written, letters cannot be deleted and it is because of this that legacies are made.

There was much concern when the telephone was introduced as a communications tool. The post office was certainly worried. If people could speak to each other immediately, what was to come of the handcrafted letter? There are certainly fewer letters being sent, but because of their rarity, their value has greatly increased. It is something tangible, beyond just the paper or card. It is the reality of a person investing in us.