Friday, March 8, 2013

On Cards and Letters

I can't recall the last time I've hand-written a letter. A proper letter, at least. I've scrawled tiny thank you notes on equally tiny thank you cards and have written a couple brief get well soon! messages on cards passed around to cheer up sick friends. But I have never, at least in recent memory, taken pen or pencil to paper and drafted an entire letter. In many ways, I'm glad for typewritten and word-processed correspondence. For a project two years ago I attempted to transcribe an original letter of Lord Tennyson's. His scrawl was such that I was only able to make out about every fifth word. His being in the style of the time, I wouldn't say the old poet had bad penmanship, but to my modern eyes, it was nearly indecipherable. (Interjection: Don't get me started on the handwriting of the staff at this house, particular the scratches belonging to its namesake).

The scrawls of our fearless leader.

Despite my inability to translate Tennyson's cramped cursive, I'll admit there was a real excitement to seeing the way he crafted his words on the page. Maybe he was in a rush when he wrote the letter and the illegibility of the writing was due to his heightened emotional state. A similarly written letter done on a typewriter would not have the quickly dashed lines, the 'R's running into the 'L's, and all the 'm's and 'n's appearing nearly identical. Indeed, the reproduction of “Locksley Hall” I also looked at was considerably easier to make out. When you are just dealing with words, neatly typed, you must peer that much further behind them to see the author. With handwriting, all the flourishes, the irregular spacing, the ink made bolder with angry pressure: they're all there as a manifestation of the author's state at the time of writing.

I used to get a card every birthday from my godmother who would fill the left inside page with the most uniform, neat, and consistent cursive writing I'd ever known, or will probably ever know. So perfect was her writing that I suspect I could go back and detect traces of emotion in, say, a slight wobble in the loop of one of her lower-case 'l's or a failure to bring the stem of a 'g' to align with the stem of a 'y.' It was lovely writing of an artistic caliber that I do not possess, nor ever hope to possess. And it always came in a tasteful, lovingly chosen card that I looked forward to receiving each year in the mail.

A greeting card may now be considered old fashioned, but is now especially welcome for just that same reason. Physical letters are always very charming to receive, and I think the return of the greeting card would be a welcome cultural revival. I say lead the charge with Mary Azarian Greeting Cards. These cards use images from Azarian's A Farmer's Alphabet, and include letters such as Apple, Dog, Farm, and Neighbor. Why don't you grab a pack, a nice pen, and surprise a friend or two with a handwritten note? It's only $13.95 for twelve cards, and you can purchase them directly from our website.

What are your letter-writing habits? Have you received or sent a card you really loved recently? Do you think handwriting is a window into someone’s heart? Drop a comment off below or maybe even Tweet us a picture of a beautiful card or letter you’ve received recently.

No comments:

Post a Comment