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In Praise of Hand Written/Printed Notes

These quaint little sticky squares were all the rage before email took over.

Recently, I was sticking a stamp on a letter and one of my tutoring students asked me, “What are you doing? What IS that?” 

In an age of email, texting, tweeting and Instagram, is the writing on the wall for letter writing?  

Very thought-provoking question, isn’t it?

Birth and marriage announcements, expressions of love or anger, congratulations and sympathies were once the domain of the handwritten note. 

I remember writing very long and elaborate letters. I would find a quiet time and place, carefully place all my different colored pens and fancy paper on the table . . . and write. Actually, I printed. The point is that I have sent hundreds of hand written/printed letters to friends and family over the years. I loved it. Letter writing was more than the sum of words. I felt it communicated that I cared. I loved to put my personal touch on letters. I used to write my children special letters to open when they were at camp or if I was away from them for a while.  I would write the entire letter backwards so that they would have to put the letter up to the mirror to read it. They loved the element of surprise!

That was then – this is now and besides the little love letters that I give to my husband, I haven’t written a letter for a long time.  What I have done is taken the time to send hand written cards to people to tell them how much I value them and those people have greatly appreciate the gesture.

Today kids are increasingly tapped out through cellphones and keyboards – fleeting, informal, destined to be consigned to the digital recycle bin, the scrap heap of history. 

It’s true. Most children growing up in the digital age are uninterested in hand written letters.  It seems old fashioned. They’ve probably never received a letter or written one.  Call me “old” but I think that’s sad. Although schools are stil mandated to teach handwriting and cursive, it has definitely become less of a priority as kids get older. There are elementary schools that no longer teach cursive writing and I think that’s sad.

No matter what we think, cursive writing isn’t going to be used in the traditional way much longer. You can’t  even apply to university without computers. So the change is here.                                                                                                                                  David Booth, professor of curriculum at the Ontario Institute for Studies in  Education

An envelope with a handwritten address is rare, beckoning the recipient to open it immediately.  It happened to me a couple of nights ago. I stopped at our mailbox and there it was –  nestled deep within the pile of flyers, bills and requests from charitable organizations, was a Christmas card.  I couldn’t wait until we got home  – I had to rip it open and read it in the car. When we got in the house, we made a point of putting our first Christmas in a special place and my husband promptly texted the sender a “thank you” note. Ironic, huh?

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.  Phyllis Theroux

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