Back in the 80s one of my best friends moved overseas for over a year. We were the most faithful of correspondents in those pre-email days – you know, that era when you got out the nice stationery someone had given you for your birthday, and you actually wrote a letter by hand. I still have every one of her letters, which tell so much not only about her life at the time, but also about mine. Looking back I’m amazed at how we kept it up with such frequency for so long. When she recently returned for another stint in the UK we resolved to resume our old letter-writing habit. So how are we going more than 18 months down the track? Not very well I’m afraid! The score is as follows: Jo – 3 and Cheryl – 1. How did we do it back then?? But more importantly what are the barriers to us doing it now?
It’s so easy to send an email these days, or to post a birthday greeting on facebook, and technology is certainly quite an expedient way of communicating particularly when negotiating arrangements with multiple parties. But I fear we are at risk of losing the gracious art of personal communication that was such a lovely characteristic of a slower, gentler and perhaps more thoughtful era. Is anyone going to cherish and save an email in the same way a hand-written letter or card will be cherished in years to come?
I am fortunate to have a number of friends and relatives who are committed to preserving the art of the hand-written note, and who send an actual birthday card as I do. How lovely it is to receive such mail. And perhaps there is hope that the next generation will want to re-capture this lost art, because after a colleague and friend from interstate stayed with us, her 3 year old insisted on dictating a note to be sent along with some gifts for the chickens – a blue pig that oinks when squeezed and a ball of string for the chickens to play tug-of-war with! The note thanked us for looking after his mumma, and was all the more cute because it was written in a card he chose that had ‘Happy Birthday Champ’ on the front!
It’s never too late to start sending birthday cards instead of posting a message on facebook, or to write a hand-written note to acknowledge kindness or generosity. Is there a thank-you note or letter that you could write today that would surprise and delight someone? I know there is one that I could write, so I’d best get on to it…….