Lost in the mail: The art of handwritten correspondence
When I was a little girl, I remember reading in a tween magazine about having a pen pal. Through the magazine, I was connected with a girl my age in Pennsylvania. We exchanged letters and small trinket gifts for about a year, and then we stopped. This has been a common theme for any handwritten correspondence in the era of technology.
For me, it ultimately started with collecting blank cards for the various occasions. Birthdays, get well, congratulations, etc. For the people in my life I wanted to remember their special occasion, I would put the date into their contact details in my phone so on my calendar it would remind me. This was an easy way for me to keep up on addresses and continually let people know I was thinking of them.
Most recently, I had a long-time friend be admitted into a drug rehabilitation program, and our only way to communicate is through handwritten letters. I have always loved writing and sending mail and doing so with this individual has made me really reflect on the uniqueness of handwritten correspondence.
A card will outlast Facetime
There are many ways to be creative with handwritten correspondence. One year, I asked for stationary for Christmas and my aunt bought me a ton. I received different cards, envelopes, and paper. I am still to this day using up what she gave me. I enjoy tuning out the world for the few minutes it takes to write a letter or card. It has become almost an expectation of my friends and family because they can count on receiving a holiday, birthday, or sympathy card from me. I always feel good when they send me a message that they received it and it made their day to get something handwritten despite whatever they are going through.
In 2020, my family was blessed with a little boy. Giving full credit to Pinterest, I kept all of my baby shower cards, punched a hole in the corner, and used twine to bind them into a book. Many people think cards are a waste of time since the average person just throws it away. Little do my friends and family know, I have hung onto most of them and from time to time go through and re-read them.
With COVID–19 and having to experiment new ways of connecting with our family and friends without being in person, this technique can be very special. You are not able to hold onto a FaceTime conversation forever, but with a letter or card, you can.
Sara Brown, PharmD, is a community pharmacist for Meijer Pharmacy, located within Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, in Grand Rapids, MI. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family and dogs.