12 December 2012

Simple Christmas: Write a Letter




I still remember the time when I couldn't concentrate well enough to write on the computer. After having it for a year, I was still handwriting my texts and then re-writing them on the computer, the exact same way I was treating the bulky typewriter before that.

The sms and the email, with their immediate delivery brought much short-lived excitement but they soon became a necessity rather than a cherished way of communication.
beautiful handwriting from the 1860s
A pack of old letters from the 1860s. Photo: Liz West

What happened to the handwritten letter in the meantime?

In his book, The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, Philip Hensher talks about the intimate relationship between man and the pen that has developed through the centuries.

He goes on to dissect the way handwriting forms us into the persons we grow to be. From aspiring to become a grown-up to imitating someone we like, handwriting has affected all of us through our childhood and school years.
Old postcard from Oslo
Oslo Norway
Sept 29/30
Well Gertrude we are just now at Grand Hotel, will sail next Tuesday from Oslo. This is the palace of the king. Hotel is on same st near this place. We had a wonderful ride down here. We both are well hope you all are well. Lot of love to you and all. Love Uncle John & Aunt Aggie. Photo: Janet Lindenmuth


I cannot imagine what life is to present day pupils who type (or touch) rather than write - could it be handicapped in a certain way and devoid of emotions that made the previous generations more human? It seems like Philip Hensher can read my mind:
"We have surrendered our handwriting for something more mechanical, less distinctively human, less telling about ourselves and less present in our moments of the highest happiness and the deepest emotion. Ink runs in our veins, and shows the world what we are like. The shaping of thought and written language by a pen, moved by a hand to register marks of ink on paper, has for centuries, millennia, been regarded as key to our existence as human beings."
The multi-dimensional emotion and beauty of handwriting cannot replace even the most eloquent of typed texts.

Write your Christmas cards this year, don't type them! Pour your genuine gratitude into the ink and let it be sealed on paper. Your attitude is more valuable than anything mechanically produced. Even young children will be fascinated by your act of kindness and will be thankful, I promise. You might as well be a good example to them and who knows, may be they will catch the handwriting bug!

Now tell me, how does your Christmas card routine look like? 

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