Snail mail. Happy mail. Mail art. I think of them as delightful keepsake pieces. Handwritten notes are so special now, since our society now thrives on quick, abbreviated responses. Social media has become a mainstream way to communicate and thus, seems to often render that communication lifeless and less meaningful. It can make the world a little lonely.
Ah, but the handwritten letter, now there is something wonderful. They are a token that you can refer back to upon touching it or rereading its contents. It is the crinkle of the type of paper used, the colorful bits of stickers and washi used to decorate it – or perhaps the simplicity of just words, the imprint of the ink on the surface. Even if it’s just a short “how are you?” you know the person was thinking of you. And they took the time to actually write to you.
We don’t do that often enough these days. Everyone is so separated, by busy schedules, by quick 140-character check-ins. So when someone takes the time to scribble a note to you, it’s a great feeling. You connect with them on a different level. They say seeing a person’s handwriting can reveal a lot about one’s personality – and this is so true. Is their handwriting tiny or bubbly? Elongated with no-nonsense lines that get right to the point? Are they heavy handed with the ink or is it a very precise fine swirl of letters?
Letters can be pieces of art. Layers of stamping, coordinated washi collages and artful placements of magazine clippings. I’ve kept so many letters from pen pals that were so lovely I had to keep the components intact to remember it by. And when I look back on them, I remember the delight I felt at receiving it in the mail. Bills and junk ads fill our mailboxes daily, so it’s such a bright little surprise to see a postcard stick out of the pile, or a colorfully decorated envelope from a friend far away.
I’m happy to see that this craft has been coming back in the past few years. The stationery community as a whole has embraced letter writing and now there are groups you can join to find dependable pen pals easily. I’ve met great friends this way, ones I have been writing to for years now. I’ve learned about different cultures and even if it was just a brief encounter, it was nice to connect with someone I’ve never met, but had similar interests with. Now, this is quite different from the birthday cards one gets, or the yearly Christmas greeting, where people just sign their name and allow only the pre-printed well wishes to speak for them. No, I refer only to the moments we take to simply scribble a few personal words – a quick update about yourself and asking after their family or pets. That personalization counts and is often overlooked.
Such a simple act, one that may only take a few minutes of your time, can be so meaningful. We may not write with the flourish of the Victorians or the lengthiness of the Regency period, but a simple “I’m thinking of you” can lift one’s spirits so immensely. They break the boredom of our daily mail check and frankly, the novelty of receiving something handwritten is never tiresome. Have you ever heard of anyone complaining, “I wish people would stop writing letters”? It is usually quite the opposite. And such a simple act can easily put a smile one someone’s face. So why not take the time to send a little happiness?