Mail and the written word

I was recently searching  the stores for a simple address book.  I was surprised to find the selection so limited if available at all!!  While browsing  a major chain bookstore,  a young employee observed my struggle and offered to help. When I told her what I was searching for she patiently explained to me that the store didn’t really have much of a selection of these (apparently obsolete) items. She kept her phone numbers in her phone. “Oh,” I commented, then asked “what if your phone was lost or crashed?”  She smugly explained that she had a computer backup, app, or  cloud for such emergences. When I asked her if she also kept addresses in these places she gave me a blank look. There was no understanding in her world that an address was something to hold on to when, after all, she could simply text the person for an address. Once you had  been to their home you would simply remember where they live!  Duh!  Maybe she would call her mother for the address as my kids do…which was the point of purchasing these address books in the first place! I was tired of my kids calling for addresses every Christmas, baby shower, or even an occasional thank you note. They knew that mom had a address book with all of these address carefully recorded (or at least an envelope with a return address in hopes of being added).

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What this young woman, and probably many others fail to realize, is the joy that comes from getting a hand written note or card in the mail. I know many people don’t bother to check their mail regularly anymore. Why bother? Bills are paid online, pay checks, tax returns, and other such sources of incoming or outgoing monies are handled electronically these days. Our lives are so busy that many have forgotten the joy of receiving a piece of personal mail-much less taking the time to sit down a write a note or letter to anyone.

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I remember the joy my kids experienced growing up when a birthday or Valentine or any special occasion card came in the mail addressed to them. My mother was particularity diligent in sending cards and the kids anticipated receiving mail as a result.  I have tried to do this for our grandkids but cannot seem to keep up as well as she did. We also mail them post cards occasionally when we are traveling as I recall how much pleasure my kids experienced with this simple sign of acknowledgement.

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But…what about adults? Don’t we like to receive personal mail as well? If you are thumbing through your recent batch of mail-bills, advertisements, and whatever, don’t you usually stop when you find a hand addressed letter or card from someone you know? Aren’t you likely to take a moment to open it, spend a few minutes reading it? Might we feel a moment of happiness that someone we know took time from their busy schedules to write to us? I know I felt that way recently when I received a thoughtful note from fellow blogger, Marlene at insearchofitall.

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Of course I love my emails, Instagram, internet searches, (not a fan of Facebook these days), my smartphone, texting, and good old fashioned chatting  but can’t deny the pleasure I feel when receiving or writing a note to someone I care about. If you haven’t tried it lately I encourage you to do so. Just imagine the joy the recipient of your efforts will feel next time they head to their mailbox!

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44 thoughts on “Mail and the written word

  1. Great post Jan, I so agree! In recent years, since I started blogging in fact, my mailbox often holds a handwritten envelope, a postcard or even a package sent from one of my friends. It is a real pleasure to look, to hold, to think of the person and to revel in the fact that there is a link forged and maintained often without having met face-to-face. It’s something I often wish I had more hold of, that I would take time to sit and write a card regularly or even a letter – I grew up writing letters and part of my week was given over to the task – but now, alas, that task is superseded by a keyboard and an email button. There is a movement that seems to be slowly growing that has folk writing instead of emailing and I have a small group of friends who have recently fallen in love with a round robin which started more by accident than design, but which gives us all great pleasure.

    Keep giving out the addresses to your kids, at least they are writing!

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  2. Yes, they do write very occasionally, Pauline. I guess I could keep track on how often they call for addresses! 😄 Mostly I write elderly (woo, that sounds bad-sorry) family members and a few friends. Cards to people who are ill our suffering a loss but I feel inspired to do more. Another positive about letters is the memory trail it leaves behind. What joy to stumble over an old correspondence. It often brings a tug at the heartstrings or a remembrance of days gone by. I wish I would have realized this when I was younger as I would have hung on to more letters.

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  3. Yes, me too! I read a while ago that it is hard to find copies of people’s handwriting any more and so I started to use my own handwriting on my art – instead of stamps or computer written words. It’s a little bit of us we can leave behind 🙂

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  4. Hi Jan, loved this post!!! I absolutely love getting a letter from my sister Carolyn in the mail. It has all these lovely details of her daily life, and it is a glimpse of what i miss seeing because we live at opposite ends of Canada. I wrote my dad about a month ago, and my sister said he loved receiving it. I have to write more. Hope your summer is going well. Xx nancy

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  5. Hey, Nancy! Always special to hear from you. I plan to write more too. It’s sad to see the kids in school busily being taught computers rather than ( or in addition to) handwriting. It makes me think that within a generation handwritten letters will be a thing of the past. Who knows, maybe there will be a comeback. After all, what old is often new again! Summer is great. Taking it easy. You? Hugs, Jan

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  6. Great idea! Also gives the personal touch. ♡ Can you believe they don’t teach handwriting to kids in school anymore? I suspect someday there will be a change of heart regarding this. If nothing else, how will those big league sports players sign their names? Ha ha

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  7. I’m so glad you got the card the second time around. I had the address on a spread sheet in excel…correctly. I made the mistake of taking it from the envelope and didn’t see it clearly. Or my eyes didn’t register all the words. My handwriting is not that great and I often type out a letter so it’s legible and write a short note on the card. I’m hoping to get back to sending cards and things now that I can almost catch my breath. Thanks for the pingback. I think that’s what it’s called. Now I’m going to write in my journal and find a birthday card that needs to make it to Australia by the 15th. ;( hugs.

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  8. I’ve been on the receiving end of one of MH’s lovely notes, so I know of what you speak. I’ve never stopped writing cards, postcards and letters by snail mail. And like Pauline, it seems to be enjoying a resurgence of late. When I see a personal note in the stack of mail, I’m tempted to tear it open then and there. Instead, I set it aside so I can savor it in a quiet moment.

    Great post.

    PS You can create a database of your names and addresses and then print it like an address book. It’s the best of both worlds. If your computer is lost or stolen, you have the printed back up. But as you add or change addresses, it’s much easier than recopying everything over again in an address book. I keep a copy in a small binder on my desk.

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  9. I so agree with you. I love a letter and have penfriends I started writing to 30 years ago! I too send things through the post to grandchildren, gifts, cards, little letters. And when the postman brings me something I make a little occasion of it and open it with a coffee to savour the pleasure. Hurrah for the postman. And you are so right my children phone me frequently for addresses!

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  10. My wife has an address book that dates back more than 35 years, to before we were married. She not only keeps (and updates) addresses in it, but makes notes about meaningful events (like when we eloped). “Personal” communication has reached a new low, and the advent of “smart” phones, tablets, etc., has only served to lower the bar even further. Young people today cannot have a conversation unless their thumbs are moving. Very sad day for civilization.

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  11. I’ve come to the conclusion that my nieces/nephews think everyone is on FaceBook and that’s all that is needed to make an announcement of anything. Not true and especially not true for extended family who might not be “friends”. We recently had a mad scramble to connect with extended family – My niece had no idea what an address book was, although I know her mom had one somewhere in the house. But on the other hand, my Mom loves getting quick email notes from me. It’s great sometimes when our schedules don’t line up for a phone call. So I do them more regularly now, even if I plan to call her that night.

    So I guess i’m in both the old world and the new – love getting all the Facebook Happy Birthday’s even if I know FB was the reminding push to my “friends”. And love getting the cards in the mail with a more personal note. I guess I love anyway people try to stay connected.

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  12. Lovely post, Jan. You had me smiling at the thought of the confusion in the shop as you ask for this obsolete antiquated item!😀 Along with notebooks I love the proper address books and have had a few over the years and I still diligently add any new one addresses to this hardback copy. My son asks why…since he know I’ll also put into my contacts on computer etc. Like you I answer just in case and also I show him the history therein – of families moved away, of childhood friendships, of family passed. As for postcards and letters – I still treasure these and am known for sending postcards and handwritten missives.

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  13. Hi, Annika. So nice of you to visit. The letters and cards are a type of history, aren’t they? Places visited and experiences shared. I have some from/to my parents which I treasure all the more since they are no longer here.

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  14. I seldom check my Facebook anymore so always a bit dismayed when a group or invite is posted there. I have almost missed a birthday party or two but one daughter usually catches it and let’s me know. A phone call perhaps? A note is so much better but I am willing to be flexible. Trying to keep up with the times!

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  15. I do love my technology but the youth just don’t know what they are missing, do they? Almost like a written history of sorts as we would share feelings and experiences. I understand many of the elementary schools aren’t even teaching cursive writing anymore. Next thing you know libraries will be a thing of the past too.

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  16. Glad to know I’m not the only one. At least if they’re calling for addresses perhaps they’re sending notes or cards. That’s so fantastic that you have a writing history between your friends. I have to say, I lost touch with many people over the years as I got busy raising a family and working. They too were probably very busy but I would love to have the opportunity to renew the correspondence. You inspire me to perhaps search them out again.

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  17. A great post, Jan. I heartily agree about the pleasure of receiving a handwritten note or letter. My grandchildren developed the habit early of sending handwritten birthday cards and thank you notes. Their thank-you notes are detailed and precious. I keep them on my buffet for a while so I can reread them.

    I feel as though I’m living in two worlds at the same time. When I get a new address, I type it into my email address book and then write it by hand in my old paper address book. It seems that progress has just made more work for those of us who are in the middle.

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  18. My friend JP is so good about keeping mail alive! This is especially special considering she’s an expat. She sent me my one and only piece of mail to Cambodia from Thailand. I wasn’t sure I was going to get it, but it worked!

    Truly, it’s a lost art. College was 10x more fun with mail and I’m sure kids still get care packages, but other than that…where is the mail?

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  19. All so true – we are losing some real arts through the ‘convenience’ of our new technology. Children are not even learning the wonderful art of handwriting as printing is thought to suffice for the little, non electronic communication they do😟

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  20. I know!! With kids not learning cursive writing I have to stop and think every time I sign a birthday card or leave a note for the girl who feeds are cats when we’re out of town. It doesn’t make sense!

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  21. Oh I totally agree! There’s nothing quite like getting a card or a letter the snail mail way. It’s more personalized and I know exactly how you feel. It’s so strange, many people I know have really bad hand writing because they are so used to typing and not writing!

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  22. I used to keep all my letters, but when I came back to Australia after four years away I had to ration what I brought back. It’s only when those people have passed that you realise what a stupid thing it was to throw them away. Can you imagine what a precious gift it would be if I could hand on to a future generation all the lovely things their grandmother was writing to me about them, for example?

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  23. I love getting mail! Especially such lovely personal mail! I try to keep it alive by addressing envelopes in a pretty way… by making my own card… by writing a little note! Yes, I do get busy and have been with remodeling… but time has slowed down and now its time to send a note to someone! THANK YOU for the reminder!

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  24. I think we all love getting me out. The fact that you can make your own cards is marvelous. I have tried, and I’m not real successful at it. I too am a victim of time need to be reminded to take a moment to send out a card here and there.

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