Handwritten cards and notes are rapidly becoming part of ancient history. Just as Dad and I visited Petroglyph National Monument this summer looking at and taking pictures of the writings of the early Pueblo cultures, future generations may be marveling over the handwritten notes and cards of our generations.
I hope this isn’t the case, but cards, notes, letters, and anything that travels by traditional mail is becoming a thing of the past. My
original intention for these memos was to send them by mail. I even bought special paper on which I planned to print them, but reality set in. If I was going to complete this project, I needed to make it simple and practical and so I settled on email (although I
do print out each memo and keep them in a notebook).
While I enjoy our instant communication through email and even text, I truly cherish the more formal written form. On my desk in the kitchen I currently have a stack of cards, invitations, and thank you notes. I won’t leave them on the desk forever, but it’s nice to see these reminders of people I care about. In the cabinet above my desk are the numerous cards we received when Granny died. How wonderful that so many people took the time to share their condolences, especially those who took the time to write thoughtful notes. These cards are truly cherished.
When I was young I remember the time and effort that went into writing Christmas cards. By Thanksgiving, the Christmas card list had been developed and addresses had been updated. Then we selected the perfect card. We never had the resources to print special cards with family pictures, and my mom would never have purchased cards with printed names. It may have been because of the expense, but she was always indignant when we received those cards. I can hear her now, “I can’t believe you can’t even take time to sign your name…why bother?”
After completing the list and selecting the cards, it was time for the hard work. My mom wrote notes in the cards…short notes, but notes and included our school pictures. She labeled pictures with names and ages so the recipient would have our most up-to-date stats. When I learned to write in cursive I became an important part of the Christmas card writing tradition. My job – address the cards, stuff the envelopes, and lick the stamps. We were quite a team.
I couldn’t wait to bring in the mail in December. Every day more cards arrived. We caught up on friends and relatives that we rarely saw, received pictures of cousins, and displayed cards all over the house – mostly hanging creatively as another type of decoration. A great tradition I miss, but not so much that I was ever the efficient, informative card writer like my mom.
It’s not just Christmas cards. Birthday greetings, well wishes after an illness or accident, thank you cards, and invitations also
tell our story. I know it’s difficult to justify keeping all that stuff. Who needs it? What use is it? I’ve thrown out ALL of the
Valentine cards given to me by my students and do not regret that! There really isn’t anything special about a card that comes in a pack of 25 with some elementary rhyme that was probably signed on the envelope instead of the card anyway, but unfortunately I also threw away some thoughtful thank you cards written by students. I wish I kept those, but moving from one class to the next quickly often results in bad decision making.
I need to organize the cards, letters, and notes I’ve saved so that I don’t lose any more. I enjoy seeing the handwriting of loved ones – even if they only signed their name. To avoid misplacing these treasures in the future, I’ve set up a shoe box, labeled it, and placed it in the cabinet in the kitchen. I vow to keep every card, note, letter, invitation, or handwritten correspondence. These treasures need to be easy to retrieve because I think you’ll agree they can serve as a great pick me up.
I’ll also make an effort to sent you two or three things each year that you can put in your own box of cherished notes.