This file includes Email, Letter Writing and Sympathy Cards.
Also see Conversation, Phones, and Journaling

Thinking of you I get an empty feeling . . . right in the middle of my inbox!

I combined email and letter writing because they are very similar--except email is often shorter, less formal and quicker. This file covers email as a means of communication. The Email file has poems, jokes, chain letters, forwarded emails and hoaxes.

Computer Mediated Communication

(Isn't that a great description for email!)

A quote on the value of the internet as a communication method:
"One reaction to the growing presence of cyberspace is to see it as a threat to the traditional human value of social, face to face exchange . . . Yet this is . . . nothing to be alarmed about, for it is the eagerness to communicate and the desire to be heard by another that activate those fingers. The fact is that when we use computers we are having an exchange with other humans, through the machine, not with the machine."

Email versus Phone Calls

Years ago I clipped this article about the advantages a letter has over a phone call. I think that many of the advantages of a letter also applies to email (except being able to bundle them up . . . and you could even do that if you printed them out).

Sometimes I think that the phone call is as earthbound as daily dialog, while a letter is an exchange of gifts. On the phone you talk; in a letter you tell. There is a pace to letter writing and reading that doesn't come from the phone company but from your own rhythm.

We live mostly in the hi-tech, reach-out-and-touch-someone modern world. Communication is an industry. It makes demands of us. We are expected to respond as quickly as computers. A voice asks a question across the ocean and we are supposed to formulate an answer at this high-speed rate of exchange.

But we can not, blessedly, 'interface' by mail. There is a leisure and emotional luxury in letter-writing. There are no obvious silences to anxiously fill. There are no interruptions to brook. There are no nuances and tones of voice to distract.

A letter doesn't take up by surprise in the middle of dinner, or intrude when we are with other people, or ambush us in the midst of other thoughts. It waits. There is a private space between the give and the take for thinking.

There is this advantage to slowing down the pace of communications. The phone demands a kind of simultaneous satisfaction that is as elusive in words as in sex. It's letters that let us take turns, let us sit and mull and say exactly what we mean.

Today we are supposed to travel light, to live in the moment. The past is, we are told, excess baggage. There is no question that the phone is the tool of these times. As fine and as ephemeral as a good meal.

But you cannot hold a call in your hands. You cannot put it in a bundle. You cannot show it to your family. Indeed there is nothing to show for it. It doesn't leave a trace. Tell me how can you wrap a lifetime of phone calls in a rubber band for a summer's night when you want to remember?

E-Mail Wonderland

Another 'ping',
Are you listenin'?
The 'puter screen,
Is a glistenin'.
With icons so bright,
They light up the night,
Welcome to the e-mail wonderland!

Gone away,
Are the hall talks.
Here to stay,
Is the IN-BOX.
Flagged "urgent, please read!",
And "answer with speed!".
Welcome to the e-mail wonderland!

In the morning e-mails start to add up.
No lunch today cause messages abound.
Just click away and hope the server stays up.
You can't do your job if it goes down.

10 P.M.,
You're not tired.
The caffeine,
Has got you wired.
The day's not complete,
Till the last delete,
Welcome to the e-mail wonderland!

Until you,
Are retired,
The same old grind,
It is required.
You'll face unafraid,
That message parade.
Welcome to the e-mail wonderland


A shipwrecked man was barely surviving after four months on a deserted island, when one day on the beach, a gorgeous woman rowed up to the shore. "I've been on the other side of the island since my cruise ship sank," she told him.
"At least you had a rowboat wash up with you," he said.
"Oh, I made that out of palm branches and coconut trees." She explained.
"With no tools?" He asked incredulously.
"It was a simple matter of heating an unusual type of rock I found to a certain temperature in my kiln, then melting that into a forgeable iron to make the hardware." She told him. "Do you want to come see my tree house?"
Well, did he ever! This woman had an amazing fortress, and she cooked him a delicious five-course dinner in her handmade cookware.
After dinner, she went to slip into something comfortable and came back wearing almost nothing. She gazed into his eyes and said, "We've been lonely. I'm sure there's something you want to do right now, something you've been longing for all of these months. I think you know what I mean." He couldn't believe his luck.
"You mean . . ." He was almost speechless. "I can check my e-mail from here?!"

Letter Writing Quotes

The Postman

The whistling postman swings along.
His bag is deep and wide,
And messages from all the world
Are bundled up inside.

The postman's walking up our street.
Soon now he'll ring my bell.
Perhaps there'll be a letter stamped
In Asia. Who can tell?

Postal Service Quips and Quotes

The Postbox

Dean Farnell)

Standing strong and safe and true
200 years we've relied on you,
You saved me queueing, you saved me time
Keeping safe this mail of mine.

So convenient, and not too far
I know you're there, you always are
I'll see you tomorrow, next week, next year
I'll keep posting, never fear.

So happy birthday my bright red friend
Who's royal and loyal to the end
So to all my letters you've never lost
I raise a toast to my old postbox.

Andy Rooney's Junk Mail Help

When you get ads enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these ads with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away.
When you get those "pre-approved" letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages, do not throw away the postage-paid return envelope. It costs them more than the regular postage when they receive them back.
Why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in as well. Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, send them their blank application back!
If you want to remain anonymous, make sure your name isn't on anything you send. You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them money.
The banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to OVERWHELM them. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it . . . Twice!
Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea!
If enough people follow these tips, it will work . . . I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.

Sympathy Cards

Letters of Condolence

A condolence letter is the hardest kind of letter to write--but one of the most important. What you say depends on how close you were to the person who died and the person left behind. Your respective religions, the age of the person who died and how they died play a part as well.

Many people don't know what to say so they send a pre-printed card or a short note with the usual remarks about being sad and keeping the person in their prayers. There is really nothing wrong with that. It lets the person who is grieving know you are thinking of them and that their loved one is remembered. There is also nothing wrong with sending poems or quotes if they convey your feelings. But it is much more comforting if you include personal things about the person who died or the specific situation. The best condolence letter makes the recipient smile in the midst of tears and contains a message of hopefulness.

Start by relating an event involving the person who died. Perhaps something that is typical of them or that shows a side their loved one didn't know. It doesn't have to be anything significant--just an amusing incident, a touching thing they did for you or a reason you were glad to have had the pleasure of knowing them. Mention specifics about the person--their looks, personality, hobbies, character, etc. Don't worry about grammar or spelling--this is the time to write from your heart. The person will not be comforted by perfect sentence structure but by the thoughts behind your words. The length of the letter isn't important either. A few heartfelt sentences is fine--or a page or two if it is someone you know really well.

One thing you should probably avoid is saying you "know how they feel". Even if you have had a similar loss it is better to say "I remember how I felt when I lost my mother". There may be things you don't know about even your closest friends. If you talk about how you felt about your loss you are less likely to get into a sensitive area without knowing it.

You also might want to avoid saying things like "she is in a better place" unless you are positive the person wants to hear it. Even if they believe it they may not be ready to hear it yet--especially if the death was unexpected. Of course if the person died after a long illness or was in pain it is fine to say you are glad they are no longer suffering.

Talk about the relationship between the person who died and their loved ones. "Your mother often talked about how helpful you were to her." "It was a joy to see the love in your husbands eyes when he looked at you." "She was lucky to have a sister that shared her love of doll collecting." Most people concentrate on saying nice things about the person who died. But those left behind will take comfort in the thought that they were an asset in the lives of their loved one.

End the letter with a measure of hope. If you know their religious beliefs you can talk about them someday being reunited with their loved one or of their loved one watching over them from Heaven. Be sure to mention the lasting affect the person who died had on the people they knew--whether they were a teacher, a parent, a doctor, a nurse, a dedicated volunteer or just a friend that you could share a good time with.

Even if you agree with everything I have said, chances are you might never do it. I wrote several letters like this over the years but didn't send most of them. They seemed so different from the usual condolence letters that I ended up sending a card and short note instead. However, the times I did send the letters, the recipients told me how much they treasured my words.

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Song Lists

Below are song lists about letters, lists, mail, messages, notes, and postcards.

Songs about Letters

Songs about Lists

Songs about Mail

Songs about Messages

Songs about Notes

Songs about Postcards

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