Today's the day for writing my thank you notes for the Christmas presents I received from friends and family far away. It's the 28th already and I don't want too much time to pass before I get them out. I want people to know how much I appreciate the homemade fudge, the handmade necklace, the donations to charity, and other gifts I received.
Handwritten cards and letters are getting rarer, but aren't they wonderful to receive? Who doesn't get excited to see a handwritten envelope addressed especially to them? I have a large box filled to overflowing with letters I have received, going back to childhood. They represent and tell part of the history of my life and the histories I share with others. A letter can be re-read and shared and kept for the next generation. Just seeing my grandmother's handwriting takes me back in time and brings her close to me, even though she's been gone for almost 30 years.
Handwritten letters are in danger of becoming a thing of the past, as emails and texts replace them. Of course, we can always print out our emails or save them, but it's too easy to just delete them. And it's not only the letters themselves, but the handwriting that goes into creating them. Handwriting bears witness to the personality of the writer -- neat and careful, upward-slanting and exuberant, punctuated with hearts and exclamation points, flowing and graceful, large and loopy -- each hand tells us something about the writer and conveys more than just words.
Cursive handwriting, in particular, is almost a lost art. Some are unable to read it anymore, let alone write it. I used to have very nice handwriting, but I noticed it becoming a little sloppy, so I am making an effort to make it look as legible and beautiful as I can. I want to continue to practice this art and not find my fingers getting stiff or numb through disuse or an over-reliance on the computer keyboard.
Have you ever looked at the handwriting from a couple of generations ago? It was almost uniformly even and beautiful. I like to look at the vintage postcards at our local antique mall and enjoy the Spencerian-type writing on them. There is something about writing our thoughts out on paper that forces us to slow down and think. There are a few famous authors who hand write the first drafts of their books because they say it gives them more time and space to be creative. Slowing down, carefully considering our words, and knowing that the mail only comes once a day gives us a chance to reconsider what we have written before simply pushing the send button.
So I am going to pour myself a cup of tea, and try to write out some cards that will bless the recipients, as they have blessed me with their gifts.