I am a living witness to see the birth of cell phones, microwaves, cable TV, and other “tech'y” inventions. And I am in my late 50s!
As technology advances, it is progressively replacing the human element of communication.
Our voices are being replaced with automation, the channels on TV no longer gets changed by us walking over to the TV but rather by a remote, and communication is quickly becoming texting, voicemail, snapchats, social media posts and so on.
One thing that has always been precious to me is the art of writing with pen and paper. The day is approaching where that too will be a thing of the past.
the art or skill of writing by hand.
For the younger generation that do not know what penmanship is, the above definition sums it up. When was the last time you wrote a letter or note combining the a,b,c’s into a word, a sentence, then a paragraph, and the end-product...a handwritten letter?
My grandmother sent me eloquently written letters she had crafted for me as I was growing up. She lived out of state, and these letters were what kept her, and I close. Her cursive lettering was an art form which I tried to mimic many times when scribbling out of boredom. Her paper of choice was a fine transparent vellum-type paper that had a slightly velvety fiber that was raw and organic. She always scented her letter with her favorite perfume that made me feel as if she were right there with me.
When I lost her many years ago, all I had left of her were memories and her letters. I kept every single letter she sent to me. At the time, I never really put much thought into why I kept them. Perhaps the beautiful paper or the smell of her perfume enveloped me with one of her hugs.
All of her letters are now fastened together with a discolored satin ribbon that came from my wedding dress. I lovingly placed the stack of her letters inside a Quaker hat box that was hers as a young woman back in the early 1900s.
When I am missing her or feel melancholic, I gather her old hat box up and open it to reread every letter. I have repeatedly done this for the past 36 years. These letters will be passed on to my grandchildren one day after I am gone.
You see, a letter that is handwritten is not merely that of ink being put to paper but rather a labor of love where a part of someone remains amongst the fibers of folded paper.
Losing A Valuable Part Of Life
I have discovered that through some reading of surveys on handwriting, that the average amount of time since a person hand wrote something was over 40 days ago. One in two people has had no need to handwrite something in over six months.
This truly saddened me. When was the last time I hand wrote something? It struck me that I too had fallen in this bottomless pit of allowing technology to do the work for me. My form of “written” communication to my own grandchildren consists of a text or Facetime.
I was so disappointed in myself! So, I decided to revive that part of me that loved to handwrite letters and I would write my grandchildren just as my grandmother did for me. I live out of state away from my grandchildren just like my grandmother did.
It took me a few weeks to locate the perfect hand-milled paper that had the raw fibers extending out of the edges of the paper. A good paper is what makes a letter last for ages.
I also had to choose a pen which proved to be as labor-intensive as finding the paper was. My pen had to have crispness when writing so the curves and dots I wrote were precise and tight. The ink must not bleed or run. A fountain pen would do just fine!
I gathered my fancy paper and my brand new fountain pen and headed for the quiet corner in my kitchen. A small table sat directly in front of the window of my kitchen where my grandchildren and I rolled and cut out cookies, where we did arts and crafts, and where we had green eggs and ham. I do miss them and wish they would visit more often.
As I sat there, I glanced outside the window trying to compose what I would write mentally. And it came to me.
“My Dearest Barrett, Brady, and Soon-to-be Grandbaby,
I wanted to write you a letter to you just like my grandmother used to write to me. She lived very far away from me, and we were not able to see each other but only once a year on vacation. She was very special, and I want to tell you about her.
Her name was Mabel, and she was born in a log cabin in the mountains of Missouri. They did not have electricity or indoor plumbing back then, and the only means of heating the cabin was by a woodstove. She and her family lived in the country, and the nearest neighbor was over a mile away.
She went to school in a one-room schoolhouse that she walked a long way to get to. There were kids of all ages in her school. My grandmother would take her lunch to school in a metal pale with a metal handle on it. Her mother would make homemade bread and hand-churned butter, and with these two items, my grandmother’s lunch would be a butter sandwich.
Growing up she had one doll, and that was it for toys. She and her brothers and sisters would make toys out of natural things that were easy to find in nature; stones, twigs, leaves, etc. She would get so excited when they would venture down to the river where they would discover wild blueberries and elderberries. Walnut and hickory nuts were some favorites too.
After my grandmother graduated from school, she did not go to college but married my grandfather who was a train conductor. Together they raised five children, one of whom was my father.
My father used to tell me all kinds of stories about growing up and how my grandmother made everything by hand including clothes, meals, and other items around the house. He told me about how she would sit for hours handwriting letters to various people. Her letters served as a ministry to those who were alone, homebound, or struggling and needed an encouraging word.
My grandmother was a strong Christian woman that loved the Lord with all of her heart. If she saw a chance to share Him with others, she seized the opportunity.
My grandmother has been gone for 36 years now, and the only thing I have left of her are my memories of her and her letters that she handwrote. One day you will receive those letters to pass down.
You see, a handwritten letter to someone you love can easily be composed, but a handwritten letter to someone that needs to feel the love of Christ requires forethought and a lot of love. For every letter or number you write onto a piece of paper, is a part of you goes that is shared within the letter. So when you give someone a handwritten letter, you are showing them an act of love.
As you grow older and technology consumes our every effort of labor, please do this for me. Don’t lose the art of handwriting because it’s important that you pass that down to your children and grandchildren.
With All of My Love,