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.
However, there are obviously things that I love about technology, and one of them is that I can just insert this link and tell you that I whipped up a double batch of my little hug treats.
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?
This is an awesome post Abby 🙂
I actually always make handwritten cards for holidays and special occasions. I can’t remember the last time I bought one… My mom always told me that it meant more than a computer print off, and it rings through my head every time I need to send a gift.
You know, I am a HUGE fan of handwritten cards and letters. I kept this up until about 2005. Then, I succumbed to email for most people, though I still have some pen pals I cherish. I really just love getting a card in the mail, and I love doing that for someone else. There is something personal about it. And I love cute stationery and, well, I can’t rationalize buying it if I don’t use it 😉
Best thing I ate this weekend? Man, it’s been a weekend of great eating. We went to brunch yesterday and I had this spinach/mushroom/swiss omelet that was great. Last night, we ordered my favorite pizza. Tie goes to the pizza.
I still send handwritten cards and I even attempt to make cards myself at Christmas and birthdays. I agree it seems so much more personal than sending things through the internet. As much as I like my technology, I would never want it to replace real communication. Aw your hugs look lovely, that’s such a nice thing to do for your coworkers!
Best thing I ate this weekend was a falafal and spicy pumpkin chutney wrap. Garlic does not agree with me, but I ate it anyway. It was totally worth it 😛
I remember the first time I saw your blog was b/c of those little hugs at Christmas time! 🙂 Smoothie Girl suggested I stop by and see your post about them after I had mentioned how much I love Hugs!! They are so GOOD!! And I’m sure your coworkers will appreciate them. I should do more little gestures like this.
Best thing I ate this weekend would have to be the quiche I made for my mom and sis yesterday. So good!! 🙂
Love the kisses on pretzels… I am definitely making these for Easter 🙂
abby this is heartwarming! im HUGE on cards. im constantly sending notes and cards, and im kindof a collector of pretty, fun, artistic notecards and stationary. when my purse was stolen on wednesday, i had a beautiful card that i spent a lot of time on addressed to my prayer sister stolen inside it. it was actually one of the losses i considered with most sadness, along with a written note from my husband that he gave me when i went on my trip to reston. i kept it in my purse. this stuff is special to me! im glad to report though, that i wrote a new and better card to my prayer sister, and i just hope whoever stole my stuff read that card and maybe was uplifted by it.
i certainly do more than my fair share of facebooking messages though!
best thing i ate this weekend…probably sashami. im in love with squid and now Walu. have a great week!
Sweet post, Abby. And I thought you weren’t the mushy sweet and lollipops gal, but who knew there is a big softie in you? 😉
I love snail mail, but I only do it with a few people. but usually, my close friends are all bad writers….I find it rather irritating that I would write 10 pages, and they would reply with a badly written 2-page terse letter with horrible grammar.
oh well. I still keep all of their letters! hee.
I love how genuine your gestures are toward your coworkers! Unfortunately I don’t think I could do something like that where I work – we’re close but not really.
I have an iPhone but no facebook or Twitter account. I “waste” enough time reading blogs!
I still send out handwritten notes but not nearly as often as I’d like. My mother in law is so good–she is always sending us notes and postcards.
Best thing I ate this weekend is a tie between this chocolate fudgy-peanut butter desert thing at Akasha restaurant and my homemade guac.
Great and thoughtful post!
The story about your grandfather really melted my heart.
I totally understand what you are saying with this post. What I hate more than anything is texting. It’s so ridiculously impersonal! To me texting is basically a slap in the face. A text says “hey, I want you to know something or I want to know something from you, but I don’t actually want to even bother talking to you.” I mean, come on, talking on the telephone is already an impersonal version of a conversation! I am guilty of using facebook as a means of communication though…
Can today count as the weekend? I tried a peppermint stick dipped in dark chocolate. I turned one down back in December(I was too afraid), and when I was given one today, I decided that I really regretted not eating the last one. So I did! And it was delicious.
I loved this story about your grandpa and the shakier and shorter notes as time passed. It’s funny, not funny but ironic. I went through lots of clear-outs and in doing so, threw out lots of cards. When my mom died last year I became obsessed with finding as many cards from her as I could- it was weird. I didn’t have many and I regretted all the tossing out I did. Now I save cards again. Especially from those people I really treasure.
Guilty on the e-crimes. I tweet daily, FB occasionally, blog/email all the time. I try to avoid checking my iphone as I know it’s just not a good habit. I need to learn to just sit sometimes. Just sit.
Best thing I ate?- I think this post is weeks old- apologies- so behind on reader. It might have been the chicken mole I had in Mexico! 🙂
I love this post. I am so addicted to technology but I will tell you I’m not until I’m blue in the face but love my blackberry, instant internet access, laptop, etc. But then at the same time I bit** that things aren’t personal anymore and each time I go into a store, the cashiers and such are either on their phone or just rude. I pay my dads taxes online and make their credit card payments sometimes and tried to teach them how to do it themselves but have a feeling that they will be calling me with questions. I have some friends who I prefer to email or text, others who I like to have an actual conversation with.
I still send letters and cards, that will never go away in my world. I’ve saved all the cards I’ve gotten through the years–I still have my high school graduation cards I’ve received.