You open the mailbox, pull out the scattered letters within. Bill. Bill. Condo flyer. Bill. Bill delivered to the wrong address. A creamy smooth envelope, addressed in the familiar swirl of a friend's handwriting. Tossing the rest on the table, you grab your cup of tea and settle in to open this one first. You gingerly open the envelope, mindful of the crisp paper within. You fold open the papers, as a smile spreads slowly across your face. Despite the separating miles, you hold in your hand the essence of a person dear to you.
"Dear _______; It has been so long. How are things with you?"
You first eagerly read through the full letter, eager for gossip and looking for the most exciting news. Once you read through to the end, you turn the pages back to the start, and read more slowly and deeply, picking up on nuance and innuendo, picking up the feelings and emotions hidden within the written words.
Letter-writing is a ritual that in this age of email, instant messaging and texting is falling by the wayside. One of my favorite things is finding a hand-written letter in my mailbox. It is so nice to know that someone took the time to sit quietly to compose their thoughts to you; that they chose deliberately the paper or card on which they transferred their words; that they took special care to use their best hand-writing.
I also enjoy the ritual of writing the letter, and I think it goes beyond my obsession with papers and inks. I keep on hand a generous supply of cards and note papers. I uncap my favorite fountain pen. I boil the kettle and keep a cup of tea at my elbow. I pour out my heart in a way that email does not allow. Handwriting conveys the mood of the writer, in a way that email can never do, despite smiley faces and other emoticons. Does the pen stroke turn harsher, pressed more firmly into the paper, the cross strokes more pointed, as the writer expresses frustration? Do the words lean a little further to the right when words of joy pour across the page? A word is underlined once to draw attention, or three times to convey that this point is particularly important. A hand-drawn smiley face is much more personal. And the x's and o's for hugs and kisses far more intimate.
If you dread going out on a snowy day such as this, take a few minutes first to write a letter to a friend. Its easier to brave the cold world knowing that a side-trip to a mailbox is going to bring joy to someone dear in just a few days.
The beautiful pinecone card is designed by Canadian artist, Shane McDonald at tindesigns.