There once was a time when people corresponded through handwritten letters… though it seems as ancient as the Titanic, it was something I grew up doing on a regular basis. After we emigrated to the United States in the early 1980s, letters became the staple form of communication for keeping in touch with relatives and school friends trapped behind the Iron Curtain. The telephone was too expensive, and possibly also too complicated, both mechanically and politically, to use for long or frequent conversations.
Now we have so many ways of contacting those we love, that writing a letter borders on the absurd. When was the last time you wrote something by hand that was a full sentence? Something more than: milk, bread, toilet paper. I actually have, but I am amongst the few. Because I draw and sketch, I write by hand also/along. For many, though, the act of holding a traditional pen or pencil in the hand for the purpose of writing feels antiquated. I was laughed at the other day for using a paper based organizer.
Maybe I am a silverfish or just an old romantic, but I like paper. I like it much better than a hard glossy screen. It is soft, it has texture, and it doesn’t show fingerprints. It is a real material. What you put down on it, stays. You cannot control/command-z your mistakes. They are there for good. And there is something important about that, about understanding that we are still made of “real materials”, living in a “material world”, and our actions have real and irreversible consequences.
But this is getting off topic. About writing, paper, and… cards. Because this precious act of handwriting has been reduced to almost nothing, as have many other activities and things made by human hands, it has become all the more special. Giving someone something made of real materials, on which you participated by writing something thoughtful, something more than your name, is akin to giving them a gift.
These are the thoughts that have motivated me to design cards for the holidays. Being made of high quality materials, and produced in small quantities, they are not real income earners (to say the least)! I take the time to create them simply because I want to acknowledge that something special is about to happen. We are entering the winter holiday season, it is the end of the year and we must prepare for the start of a brand new year. It is a time to remember and renew our contacts/”contracts” with friends and family members. Putting something in writing is different than expressing it verbally. The contemplative act of handwriting can be beneficial to both the person giving and the person receiving. I believe that simple, tangible/tactile activities can actually improve one’s health. It is called: time off.
I thus encourage everyone (who celebrates the winter holidays and the closing of the year) to write handwritten notes to their loved ones. I will also take the time out to do this myself!
(PS Don’t I sound like a teacher…?! Well I have taught before…)
(PPS Here are the cards I designed. They are purposely made with watercolors for a hand-made look and feel.)