I started noticing a few years ago that I was getting less and less cards — for my birthday, for the holidays, for any occasion for that matter. Being a sensitive sort, this bothered me a great deal. I started to wonder if I should stop sending out cards and letters since I wasn’t receiving them. People don’t want to be bothered with buying cards, writing them out, stamping them (yup, the price of a postage is nearly 50 cents now *sigh*), and eventually having to go to the post office or a mail box to have them mailed. Yes, why bother when an email or a posting to a Facebook wall — usually a one step process can accomplish the same thing? Or does it?
In one sense, I see the beauty in the efficiency of email and social media. This is coming from someone who tried to live without a smartphone until the end of last year. So I’m making a pretty big admission here. And it doesn’t cost much unless you already don’t have internet service in the home. I put a lot of stock in adding a personal touch to almost anything. I’d rather bring a homemade dish to someone’s potluck dinner than bring a store-bought dish. I’d rather buy a handpicked gift than to give a gift card. Writing cards and letters is just an extension of my personality.
There’s beauty in the process of selecting and buying that special stationary or card. And there’s beauty in cursive that is transferred to that special paper. I used to remember making extra efforts in the 6th grade to improve my cursive, by copying the cursive that was in my penmanship book. Mrs L, my 6th grade teacher had gorgeous handwriting that was most probably acquired with hours of practice. I loved the smooth sometimes squeaking sound that was made when she took the white chalk and pressed it against the blackboard to form the luscious curves and loops that resulted from her cursive. I aspired to duplicate her work of art. I remember tossing out a lot of loose leaf paper because I didn’t like my cursive work. It was repetitive, but there was something quite zen about writing by hand.
Getting cards and letters in the mail is the equivalent to seeing tulips and roses. They’re usually unexpected, and very delightful (Yes, I like using words like delightful.) And I love the fact that they’re not immediate. It takes a few days by mail usually, and you have to open the envelope to see what’s inside. Not as quick as clicking open a email.
I just thought I had to jot this down after writing a thank you note today. I could go into a whole other blog about the cognitive benefits of learning and using cursive, but I’ll save that for another day. Who knows? Maybe somebody will make it cool to write by hand again and this dying art will be revived. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing cards and letters as the numbers I receive will continue to diminish. Happy letter writing to those who still love this way of communicating….