The Art of Handwritten Notes

Friday, March 28, 2014

I have always loved getting mail. It began when I was a little girl. I had the incredible opportunity to live in Brazil for five years. Fortunately for me, it was before the digital era of emails, Facebook, video chatting and such. Instead, family and friends would send exciting packages filled with all of the luxuries from the US -- peanut butter, Rolos, Snickers, and VHS tapes of TGIF (Full House, Family Matters and Step by Step). I would send out a personal newsletter to family friends and even had a stock letter that I would send out to church kids who would write me because I was a missionary kid. In Brazil, little girls would trade stationery in the same way that little boys in the US trade baseball cards. I would save my allowance to go to the papelaria to add to my collection. The sales clerk would pull out a shoe box filled with an assortment of pretty papers and I would carefully sort through to find the right ones.
Combined with my love for pretty papers is my passion for writing. I am not always the best at thinking on my feet, but I am known for the way I craft my words when I have pen and paper. When writing, there is no one to interfere with my thoughts or to interrupt me mid-stream. Writing allows me to feel in the purest sense, so you will find a very passionate and honest composition.
This year for my birthday my mom decided to give me a gift that was extremely thoughtful. She had watched me wistfully look at their massive pile of Christmas cards when I was home over the holidays. Since my dad is a pastor, they receive tons of cards from everyone at the church. My mom decided to make it her mission to have people send me cards for my birthday. She collaborated with my dad and husband to get in touch with friends and family to spread the word. In the two weeks surrounding my birthday, I received 50 cards in the mail wishing me a Happy Birthday. It was the best mail week ever!
Each card was special and fun in a different way, but there was one piece of mail that really stood out. The funniest part is that it wasn’t the prettiest and it wasn’t even a card. I received a 3-page letter (on notebook paper) from a man named Richard, a family friend that knew me when I was a little girl living in South Carolina. The letter talked about the memories he had of me as a little girl and the way we would always look at the moon. It also talked about his experience being a postman, going door to door delivering the mail to people. It was different back then. One sentence really captured it for me, “This is the first letter I have written since I don’t know when.” His letter really struck me. It was heartfelt. Unexpected. Honest. It reminded me of the days in Brazil when each letter told a story. You see, I haven’t seen him in over fifteen years, but this one letter brought me back to the place of being a little girl being held looking at the moon.
That’s the power of writing a letter. No email, Facebook message, or digital format will ever replace the art of a handwritten letter.


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