Over the past few years, I’ve increasingly found myself thinking about the practice of writing letters and cards. Written correspondence has been a part of human communication for centuries; a way to share the news of the day and provide encouragement. After my grandmother passed away, my mom and I spent long hours going through her papers and found letters from her sisters. My grandmother was one of twelve siblings, most of who remained in North Carolina after she moved to Florida.
Often the letter was just a quick note to let my grandmother know they had made it back home after a visit to Florida and some kind words about their stay. Some were longer updates on what was happening with the family in North Carolina and inquires after my grandmother and the family here in Florida.
I have my own box of important letters that I’ll either need to deal with before I leave this world or they’ll provide entertainment for whoever is tasked with my estate. A few years ago I threw away hundreds of letters my high school best friend and I exchanged. We got to a point where we were writing so much we took to just transferring a notebook between us, using code names to talk about the boys we thought were cute. I still have a couple of those notebooks just for kicks and wish I could remember those code names.
I’ve started taking more time to purchase cards to let friends or family know I’m thinking about them. Phone calls are nice and have their appropriate time, but there is something about sending and receiving a card that, to me, resonates sincere consideration and care. A card of encouragement sent during a difficult time can be held onto and pulled out when the crush of despair washes over you, a reminder that there is someone out there thinking about you and loving you.
It’s a shame the US postage stamp keeps rising in cost. I might consider sending letters about the mundanities of life to some of my friends and family to keep in touch in a more personal fashion, without worrying about the prying eyes of hackers or the chance a social media platform is selling my “private” messages to the highest bidder.
Maybe as I get older I am becoming more sentimental, but I did come across an article in Medium a couple weeks ago advocating bringing back handwriting. The article referenced studies that show students who take notes in longhand tend to retain more information that those that typed notes. I can attest that I did better in school when I was handwriting notes, even writing practice essays before tests. I believe there is a connection between the brain, the heart, and the written word. I still journal in longhand and the act of doing so helps to calm me when I’m anxious or bring peace when I feel sorrow.
Working on this blog led me to pull my box of letters from the closet.
I opened it and found at some point I had taken time to bundle some of the letters and cards together. Those bundles were all from individuals with separate items thrown in at later dates. The oldest letter I identified came from my elementary school best friend, most likely over our summer break. I was surprised at how many letters I had exchanged with one of my high school friends who moved out of state during our sophomore year and even more shocked at the number of letters from one of my college friends. We continued paper correspondence even though email had come along (albeit recently). I loved seeing these names and glimpsing at some of the letters. I could sit for hours reading them and remembering the good times we shared.
Do you think hand written notes will make a comeback?
My friend, Mike, is an excellent photographer who recently asked me what I thought about notecards. I, of course, told him I love them (I actually have a stockpile from days of compulsive shopping). When he showed me the prototype of some cards he was thinking about selling, I thrilled with the possibilities. By the time we finished talking, I’d given him ideas for several collections of notecards using his photos.
In recognition of Mike’s talent, and in an effort to bring back personal written correspondence, I’m giving away a set of his notecards. If you’d like to see more of his work or purchase some cards, you can find his shop on Etsy at www.mtigreetingcards.com