When I left Ohio, I left behind all the material things I thought were important. If it did not fit in the car, it was not going with me. I left behind things from my childhood, things from my adulthood, almost everything was thrown out, recycled or donated. I did keep a handful of things that really mattered and fit into the car. During all the travels and the several recent moves, I lost track of those things too. Until today….
Today, I was doing a little cleaning and I came across a small box. The box had all my magical things inside. There were just a handful of my most precious photographs, people no longer with me and a few of those that still are. There were a few silly charms and cute little gifts I received over the years. But the things that I had forgotten about, the things that really touched me, were letters and greeting cards I kept through the years. I sat down and reread them. Tears filling my eyes. My heart so full of love.
Letters from friends and family, cards for special occasions and other correspondences that I could not bear to discard. Then I remembered something. When I was younger, much younger, my mother and I would plan a trip to the Hallmark store. It was a big deal because we would, literally, spend a couple of hours picking out just the right greeting cards for friends and family. I would peruse the stationary aisle so that I could write handwritten letters when a card just was not enough.
Every correspondence I sent also had a seal on the back of the envelope as well as occasion appropriate stickers on the front. Sometimes I would right a Bible verse or happy thought along the edge of the envelope fold. I even bought the prettiest stamps to be used for mailing. I learned this from my mother and sister. Each correspondence was unique and directed to that person. Extreme care went into each card or letter.
Then came email and e cards and I forgot about doing those things. Once in a while I will pick up a greeting card at the grocery store, but they seldom ever see the inside of a mailbox because they sit in a box or a bag. I never have stamps anymore, so it is a futile endeavor.
This is how crazy I was about it…every Christmas card had to have a personal note in it. The thought of just signing my name was extremely unacceptable. If you were not going to write a note, don’t even bother was my philosophy.
As I looked over the items I kept all these years, I am reminded of that special feeling one gets when there is a letter or card in the mail. I think we have lost that little slice of humanity in our lives. Sure there are still cards and stationary, but they feel less sincere today. The cards of old where printed on high quality textured paper, the sentiments were sincere, not just non-offensive, and envelopes were more than just plain white. Hallmark used to be the pinnacle for me, now they just look like every other card.
I wrote a post awhile back about starting to write letters again. That was as far as the idea ever got. I seem to have lost my ability to sit down with pen in hand and actually write down words. I do it once in a while, but not like I used to.
Isn’t funny how something so very small and seemingly insignificant can actually make the most change. I have a few cards from loved ones when I was going through an extremely difficult time and as I reread them, my heart swelled with love. I get some amazing emails, but the feeling, the connection, is just not the same.
Mike and I met an amazing young couple a few months back. Very dynamic, very worldly and just incredible. They have traveled the world, unlike myself. When one of them was headed back to his homeland in Denmark for a visit, Mike asked him to send us a postcard. I know how daunting that can be to send even a postcard internationally. But he did it, in fact, he sent us three. I felt so honored that he had taken the time during his visit to honor that request.
A former boss of mine, found hundreds of postcards that his mother had collected during her youth. He gave them to me so that I could sell them on Etsy. I plan to start doing that again, but I did it for a while. As I posted each card, some dating back to the turn of the century, I realized that each post card was a slice of history. A moment in time that has forever stood still. On the front a hand painted design and the back a handwritten note detailing a visit or other thought.
I now understand the importance of these things, just not on a superficial level, but on a much deeper, human level. These little pieces of paper full of ink markings connect us all as humans, they touch our hearts and our souls. They remind us that there really is someone out there who cares about us. In our world today, it is so easy to feel alone. But that is not necessarily the case. An email does not stir me the way a note does. Maybe it is time to bring back some of those antiquated ideas.
Maybe sending a note instead of an email once in a while will change the world. Probably not, but I think it is worth a try.