Dec 10, 2008

the non-art of the letter

What has happened to mail? Obviously the art of the letter is dead. Can you remember the last time you sent or received an actual handwritten letter from someone? I used to be a huge letter writer in my day. I moved a lot growing up, and always kept in touch with old friends by mail. I would love to find the perfect little something to include in the letter to make it fun. I would decorate the envelope, and put the stamp on upside down. In school we had programs where you could sign up for a penpal. I had two that I corresponded with for quite a while - one in Sweden and one in Japan. I have a Christmas ornament from the one in Japan on my Christmas tree to this day.

These days it is all about speed and technology. Instant communication is clearly the way of the day. Being a techno geek, I can certainly appreciate both the convenience and speed that being able to jot a quick email, text, or IM affords me. However, I wonder what it will be like for the next generation to have never received an actual letter? On my last vacation my kids looked at me like I had three heads when I sat them down one morning to write out postcards. For heaven's sakes - what will they have instead of love letters from their future mates - printouts of a text that reads "143 - <3" ??? Oooh. How romantic! :)

I think one of the reasons I lean towards being non-responsive via email sometimes is simply that I feel bombarded. With the convenience comes responsibility, and the expectation of immediate action! At my old job I was receiving approximately 200 emails per day. On top of personal email, texts, IMs, news, tickers... it is too much media coming at a person all at once. Talk about circuit overload!

So, now it is Christmas card season. I don't know if it is because this and wedding invitations are the last remaining pieces of non-cash soliciting snail mail that anyone receives anymore, but I was having a big laugh at all the rules and regulations I have read recently regarding the tradition. Timeliness, content, originality, intent.... Too much pressure! I certainly can appreciate the lack of etiquette in general these days for any correspondence, but sometimes rules can go too far.

Personally, I make a scrapbook page with pics of the family from the year with journaling of some sort and scan it in to be printed as photos. I hand write the envelopes, mostly because I like to write by hand and find the need less and less in everyday life. I send them out as early in December as humanly possible which ensures that anyone who wants to send a card in return has my current address.

One of my favorite cards that I receive is from friends of ours who do not even celebrate Christmas. (They are Jewish.) Their card just shows up randomly at some point. Never in December, it used to come right after the holidays but now it just arrives whenever - March, June, who knows?! It is always funny, includes pictures and a great update of what the family is up to. I love it!!

I will admit to receiving less and less cards every year. I can certainly appreciate that times are tough, and cutting out sending cards can give someone a few extra pennies for somewhere it can be more wisely spent.

I wouldn't mind though receiving a card this year from someone other than my realtor, my lawyer, and my dentist. I don't really care if it's store bought, printed on a printer, has a personalized note or not, a letter (wordy, not wordy enough), pics of your dog in a sweater, hand made or commemorates a holiday I don't celebrate. I would just love to have a card to hang next to my "Have a sparkling year! Don't forget to floss!" card.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!! Your card will be in the mail shortly!

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