a little ink on my hands

There’s something so magical about a letter,

especially a handwritten one.

Back in the day, rather, the days before e-mail, texting, or messaging of any sort, I used to send a lot of letters, and get a lot of letters in return. If I’d known how rare they’d become I’d have kept more of them. The ones I have are a chance assortment of cards I liked, notes that got “filed” in an odd place, only to show up years later, or a few, very few, that really meant something to me.

laurie dave
Dave & Laurie’s daughter is a sophomore in college now

Friends used to send pictures, too, of their weddings, babies, families as they grew. Some still do. My friend Melanie sends wonderful cards every year of her, her husband Tim and their children, Alec & Amelie. This despite the fact she posts regularly on Facebook. I’ve kept them all.

In fact, while I may have lost the letters, I’ve kept most of the pictures. It doesn’t matter how many you post, because those are fluid and no one saves them, really. It’s the hard copies that end up in photo albums you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.

Or not. There are some pictures that mean nothing to me now. I’m not even sure who everyone is, let alone what they may doing today, and I’m not particularly interested in finding out. Oh well.

But the letters.

Most of those I have were written right after college, and they’re filled with hope and optimism, fear and anticipation, not the weariness that comes after illness and divorce, the death of a child or the loss of a spouse. Parents are gone now or needing care, jobs can be fleeting.

Of course there are grandchildren and a million other successes, unique to the individual, that we celebrate, but so rarely with letters anymore. I love that I have easy access to my long-time friends through the Internet, but I regret that all of that communication is so easily disposed of when we empty the trash in our e-mail. I don’t even think to save it, let alone the pictures that show up on Facebook or Instagram.

I bemoan the fact that so many schools are no longer teaching cursive writing. It seems foolish to lose that part of our culture, to tell our children it doesn’t matter.

I’ve moved a lot in my life; I’ve lived in at least five different states, and I expect I’ll move again at some point. I’m always fascinated by the places by friends choose to live, and wonder what drew them there. What have their lives become, day to day? Despite the easy access to quick messages today, or perhaps because of the very nature of those messages, they were more likely to tell me that sort of detail in letters.

And while I say more when I type and possibly say it more eloquently, there’s something to be said for a handwritten note or letter. I bemoan the fact that so many schools are no longer teaching cursive writing. It seems foolish to lose that part of our culture, to tell our children it doesn’t matter.

Handwriting works magic

with a special part of your brain. You remember things you write down far better than you remember things you type. Your handwritten thoughts tend to be different then your typewritten ideas.

I write like a left-handed person, but with my right hand, so I always end up with ink on the side of my hand if I write for any length of time. That used to bother me, now it’s a point of pride.

Obviously, I can’t dispute the value of typing. But must we completely give up handwritten letters, or even simple notes with birthday cards?

You used to express who you were in part through the stationary and cards you chose. If you wrote a lot of letters, you got the stationary that had a front sheet, matching sheets (because your letters were too long for one page) and of course, matching lined envelopes.

Perhaps it’s my love of writing that makes me sentimental. If you want to give me the perfect gift for Christmas, a nice pen will do, and maybe…a letter.


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