I have a box full of old stuff, memory stuff. Report cards, pictures, letters. It's the pile of letters bound with string that bring me the most pleasure out of everything saved in that box. I can thumb through the envelopes and read the return addresses, several written in the careful blocky handwriting of my best friend from first grade. Many written in the loopy cursive of my best friend from third grade. My childhood was spent on the move, every 4 years or so we'd end up in a new city, school, house. Letters were the threads connecting me to people left behind.
I wrote fan letters as a child, too. In my stack of letters I have replies from Ann Landers (with an autographed picture!) and a lady-in-waiting to Princess Diana. That second letter came on the thickest, heaviest, richest stationery I'd ever seen--adorned with elegant script and exotic stamps. I've also saved the onion-paper and air mail envelopes sent to me from my French pen-pal Annabelle. I saved the beautiful postcards my Grandma V. sent me from her travels all over America--pictures and descriptions of wonderful places.
These letters are special as much for what's in them as for what they're on. Emails aren't the same. You cannot put the special ones in a box and fondly page through them years later, knowing immediately who sent each one because of the stationery or the handwriting. And I'm a sucker for pretty stationery, cards and good paper. I adore long letters full of updates and news bits and short notes with affectionate sayings.
Technology may replicate a many things in this age, books, letters, phone conversations among them. But texts and emails remain a poor substitute for the Original, Emotionally Gratifying, Real Deal. I've never opened an email with the same pleasure as opening an envelope. The faint smell of glue and paper, tearing the top away or thumbing the flap open if the seal is dry enough. Reading the return address and smiling, curious to know the contents.
Thank goodness for letters, postcards, notes and mail! Thank goodness for clever designers like Erin at Ink Obsession Designs who help keep the grand tradition of correspondence alive. And because I love letters, I'm giving away a box of Erin's FABULOUS notecards to one lucky reader. One lucky reader who can fill other people's memory boxes on Erin's cards. Every comment you leave this week is a chance to win--I'll pick a name on Sunday.
Spill it, reader. What card or letter or postcard have you hung on to over the years? Or are you like me, holding on to a stack of memories written and mailed your way?