There is nothing like a handwritten note delivered by the U.S. Postal Service to make my heart flutter. I’m not necessarily referring to love letters, although here’s a public invitation to my husband to write me one if he’s so inclined. I’m referring to any personal communication from another human being who has taken the time and made the effort to move pen in hand on my behalf.
I received many handwritten notes during the last year while we’ve all been isolated during the pandemic. I have also written more. Maybe the isolation inspired the lovely notes written in less than perfect cursive. Perhaps we’ve all tired of email and the even less perfect text messages with their uncivilized and lazy abbreviations. “Where for art thou?” in old-fashioned penmanship speaks more to me than, “Where r u?”
My cousin John, one of my favorite people on the planet, is a gifted artist. He writes a beautiful note and decorates it and the accompanying envelope with his drawings. Several months ago, we spent an afternoon perusing letters written by our Irish ancestors. “My dear cousin Madeline,” they would begin, prompting John and I to introduce a new salutation in our letters to one another. “My dear cousin, Michele.” “My dear cousin John.” The letters our relatives had exchanged were a hundred years old and communicated matters of life and death, often for the first time, to the recipient. Can you imagine learning about the death of a loved one in a handwritten letter?
Some of the letters I received were thank you notes. Gratitude for a gift is often expressed electronically these days and is always an appropriate and welcome expression for a gift. But when an artist friend (I seem to attract artists into my life, although I can’t draw a straight line) writes you a thank you note on a beautiful card she hand-designed, the thanks feel particularly heart-felt.
I have always loved to write letters, notes, and cards longhand in my parochial school penmanship. In recent years, I’ve returned to the use of a fountain pen, which was the instrument the nuns insisted we write with. On one occasion when I needed to communicate with a person I love very much, I ordered special Crane stationery with lines, which are sometimes frowned upon, but I had a lot to say. I poured my heart in ink onto the porous paper and found words I had struggled to find in conversation and experienced a catharsis that reduced the pain in our relationship.
Perhaps we should be writing in cursive (I know some have never been taught it and would need to learn) to everyone. “My dear friend Amazon, your recent order arrived damaged.” “Dear Agent XXXX, I’m certain you will be enthralled by the manuscript I have enclosed.” There are physical and psychological benefits of cursive that are too long to discuss here. Maybe in another blog, my dear reader.
Perhaps, my love of the handwritten letter is just another example of why I often believe I may have been born in the wrong time.
Do you write notes in cursive or love to receive them? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter, or if you’re inspired to respond by hand, let me know and I’ll send you an address.