Thursday, August 22, 2013

You've Got Mail

"You've got mail".  3 little words that have all but eliminated the United States Postal Service from the letter mailing industry.  When I bought my first computer back in 2000 and installed the AOL internet software, I was sure the internet was the best thing since sliced bread.  Hearing those 3 words packed a punch of excitement so big it made my heart leap and my pulse race.

Letter, You've Got Mail, email, inbox

With baited breath I'd wait as I listened to the sound of the modem connecting to the provider.  My day would instantly be brighter if I had mail which caused my computer to speak those 3 little words.  The convenience of email has been a god-send to families and friends who are separated by distance.  Companies across the globe are now able to conduct business transactions in the blink of an eye.  The convenience of email has undeniable advantages.

However, as I was going through letters my grandfather had written to my grandmother while researching my family's genealogy, it dawned on me that I would not be leaving this kind of tangible legacy for my own children and grandchildren.  Sure, I could print off email correspondence between my husband and I when we were separated due to a job transfer, but printer ink does have a limited life span and it just doesn't give the same feeling a handcrafted letter does.

There is something so intensely personal about someone putting their thoughts and experiences down on paper in their own handwriting.  The recipient of that letter knows the sender has touched it with their own hands and the scent of their perfume or cologne may even still linger on the paper.  While the convenience of email has facilitated the speed by which we go about our fast-paced lifestyles, it has also caused us to forget to sit back, relax, and breathe.

When I was a child, one of the neatest surprises was to get a letter or card in the mail from my grandparents.  Oh the shouting and hoopla that would transpire with my brothers and I over whoever received that letter!  We would carefully open the envelope making sure not to tear the flap too much so the letter could be folded and stored back in the envelope to keep it safe.  The letter would gently be unfolded and read aloud as everyone sat around the recipient.  I still have those letters my grandparents sent me some 30+ years later and I still go back and read them from time to time.

I decided after having this revelation to go and purchase a set of stationary and send out some letters.  I went to 6 different retailers who carry stationary supplies and not a single one carried a set of ordinary stationary any longer.  Oh yes, they carried folded note cards and lots of designs for print your own invitations, but not a single, solitary set of stationary. 

It was as I stood there in that 6th store trying to think of where I could get a set of stationary that I remembered.  Most of the letters we received were on sheets of plain lined, and sometimes unlined, note paper.  Even the letters my grandfather sent to my grandmother while fighting in World War II were on plain paper.

The letters did not require fancy stationary with initials embossed in gold, or paper with pretty flowers decorating the corners.  No, all we needed for a letter to be special were the thoughtfully chosen handwritten words put down on paper and the love that it was sent with.

by: Christie Bielss

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