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Dear Abby 11/14
Journey to the mailbox is a disappointing trek
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    DEAR ABBY: Call me nostalgic, but I miss receiving handwritten personal notes and letters in my daily mail. Has it finally gotten to the point where it's futile to reach into the mailbox looking for a handwritten letter from a friend or relative?
    I'm talking about letters handwritten on stationery, in which thoughts and greetings are exchanged. Yes, they did take longer to arrive — but I miss them!
    Today's mailboxes are stuffed with circulars, ads, requests for donations from every conceivable charity or conservation organization, etc. But where is the simple handwritten note from a grandchild, son, daughter or distant nephew?
    With the dominance of e-mail, we have lost touch with the elegance of personal contact. Too many inane e-mail messages are immediately forwarded to half a dozen people — who forward them to another half-dozen people who aren't interested in receiving them in the first place. How impersonal can you get?
    Wouldn't it be great to institute a Handwritten Letter Week? It would be one week a year during which we would forgo e-mail and sit with pen in hand to jot a few personal notes on stationery to friends and relatives across the country. Don't you agree? -- WALTER H., OKLAHOMA CITY
    DEAR WALTER H.: Yes, I do. Although e-mail is here to stay, handwritten correspondence still has an important place in people's lives.
    Each method of communication fills a need. E-mail is fast, cheap and easy. However, it can often also be terse and impersonal. Handwritten messages can be an art form, an elegant skill that expresses emotions. Some examples: love letters, letters of condolence, and thank-you notes for gifts or for having been entertained.
    Many people forgo writing to others because they either don't know what to say or are afraid they will say the wrong thing. But anyone can write a letter by following a few basic rules. My booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions" contains not only the fundamentals, but also sample letters for almost every occasion. It can be ordered by sending a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus a check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby — Letters Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.
    With the holiday season upon us, and people sending greeting cards through the end of the year, this is the perfect time to enclose a handwritten letter. While letter-writing may always be a chore to some people, there are occasions when the handwritten word is the most appropriate, sensitive and elegant means of communicating one's thoughts.

    DEAR ABBY: I am 11 years old. What do you do if you have a friend you swore you'd tell everything to, but you have a secret you just "can't" tell him? -- SEDIKA IN DETROIT
    DEAR SEDIKA: Honey, you stop making promises you can't keep!
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