As a society, we are inundated with e-options for everything from communication, dating and shopping to flight check-ins, video conferencing and banking. We blog, we Skype (well, I don’t), we forward and delete.
And while some of these options have made life infinitely easier, it’s hard to ignore the fact that something personal seems to have been lost along the way in cyberspace. Where I feel it the most is with correspondence, be it a handwritten thank you, an event invitation or a simple birthday card sent every year.
Maybe it’s because growing up, one of the things I looked forward to most was a card that my grandpa sent me once a week—via snail mail. We were super close and although they spent winters in Florida, when back in Michigan the cards still came.
They were nothing elaborate; they didn’t play music or feature textured, sparkly material or poetic prose. (In fact, most were bought in a box of bulk from the flea market and I received the same card about twice a month.) But what they did have was my grandpa’s handwritten note, scrawled out every week above his shaky signature until well into his 80s.
The message got shorter and harder to read, but really got straight to the point—“Love you, Papa”—and each envelope was sealed with an (extremely random) sticker.
Even in my manic cleaning sprees and compulsion to minimalize, I kept every single one of them.
He died almost eight years ago, so he never really knew me when I was “sick.” Now understand that this man loved his food. We used to joke that we could put his shirt in the fridge and he could eat it for lunch (not the neatest eater, mind you), and I wouldn’t expect him to understand. But I know that today he would be worried—sick with worry—and that kind of makes me sad, even ashamed.
I know my family worries now, but I think they’ve come to accept “this” as me the same way I’ve come to accept that my mom smokes, that my grandma will always refer to African Americans as “the blacks” and that my family basically regards meat, potatoes and dessert as the three basic food groups.
I’ve come to accept that I can’t change others and I can’t change for others—I can only take these steps myself, for myself. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Pretty smart dude.
I got off on a bit of a rant, so back to the cards and whatnot. I’m both addicted to and tired of technology. I don’t want to “Tweet,” I don’t want to get my magazines in digital versions and I don’t want to have to have an iPhone to communicate with everyone in the freaking world. Even my job is changing, and I don’t like it.
I don’t need an app for that, thank you—I am blissfully unaware for now.
Anyway, my grandpa obviously didn’t have e-mail—hell, he called them “flax machines”—but if he had, I’m sure I wouldn’t still have those messages today. I wouldn’t have the envelopes with stickers or the shaky signature. Even today, getting a handwritten note or invitation seems so much more personal to me, so much more…human.
This time, we’re going with an Easter theme. While I used Hugs, I’ll add that you can switch it up for all kinds of deliciousness—I’ve done Rolos and pecans for a turtle variety, different flavored Kisses, etc.—and all were huge hits.
I plan on including a handwritten note on each treat bag and leaving them on the desks of my coworkers tomorrow. They can’t be deleted, they can’t be ignored and they may just serve as a delicious little reminder that emoticons are not human—Hugs are.
(Probably not, as they’ll most likely just eat them and get chocolate on their iPhones, later Tweeting about how they got chocolate on their iPhones, but whatever.)
Do you still send the occasional handwritten card or note, or have you become completely reliant on the availability of technology for communication?
Best thing you ate this weekend?