The Joy of Note-Writing

Post by Contributing Writer, Bethany

Where do we find the time and place for handwritten hellos in a world of instant communication, and how do we treasure the words from loved ones?

The invention of the electric telegraph shortchanged time and space in the early 1800s, quickly altering the age-old wait for news and tidings from far off lands. Then came telephones, emails, text messages, Facebook comments, Twitter mentions, Skype dates. Friend and family near and far may now exchange words in an instant.

Yet while our keyboards, our phones, our computer monitors begin and end in our presence, wearing us down with their bright lights and isolation, the charm of First Class mail remains captivating, and the practice of scribbling notes continues to spread tactile joy.

As we send and receive notes on paper, those cherished bits of sentiment held in both the author and the recipient’s hands provide something unmatched by electronics – a physical link between two worlds.

I am blessed by the thoughtfulness of loyal friends who exchange letters, notes, and care packages across the state and across the oceans. Many dear encouragements, how-are-you?s, thank-yous, and random smiles have arrived in my mailbox, and I so enjoy returning the favor…

Tips for {Actually} Sending Handwritten Notes

In my own life, I’ve worked on forming a few helpful habits to shorten the distance between idea and action when it comes to popping hellos in the post:

  • Store a stash of stamps in my wallet and keep the most important addresses memorized (or stored along with the stamps on paper or in my phone’s contact list); this makes spur of the moment tidings easier to send.
  • Keep a box of note cards near my office desk at work – easy to reach for during a brief lull. (And, truly, if you already have the stamps and card and envelope at hand, a “Hello my dear, I’m just writing to let you know I’m thinking of you today…” only takes about 37 seconds to write and means the world when it arrives to cheer a lonely day.)
  • Shop for or make supplies in batches and keep a little crate of cards and envelopes, stamps and postcards handy at home instead of relying on a trip to the store to select an appropriate card (or worse, never following through on the intention).
  • Support local businesses selling unique cards – this makes the card itself a little treasure that I’m excited to share!
  • Purchase inexpensive blank cards and envelopes and keep a few simple rubber stamps and ink pads on hand to send affordable notes when an exquisite letterpress beauty or $3.00 Hallmark card is simply beyond the budget.
  • Display notes I’ve received as a reminder of the dear people I’m blessed to know and desire to write to…

Displaying Cards {Throughout the Year}

Many of us keep the tradition of displaying holiday cards in wintertime, but what about the rest of the year? My favorite way to display notes from friends and add a little charm to my home is as follows:

  1. Screw two small eye hooks into the ceiling (available inexpensively at any home improvement store…or if you’re lucky, you might find them rattling around at the bottom of the toolbox!)
  2. String one length of cord loosely between hooks to create a graceful curve. I like to use brown hemp, but it could easily be colorful yarn or cotton string.
  3. For an extra touch, hang a slightly longer stretch of contrasting yarn, ribbon, or string. I used a length of mirrored tinsel I found on clearance years ago.
  4. Then sort and shuffle cards, stacking, layering, and sliding as you go.

As seasons change and holiday, birthday, thank-you, and just-because cards come and go, the look will change to reflect the seasons of life and the richness of friendship.

With that, go!

Get up from the computer, set aside the keyboard and find instead a pen or pencil.

Write a hand-written letter.

Pop a note card in the mail.

Spread some age-old joy and tell your friends you love them.

Bethany Rydmark is an eighth generation Oregonian, a landscape architect, and a kitchen-tinkering, garden-dreaming, Food-Group-hosting, home-making wife and friend. She lives in Portland, Oregon and shares her appetite for equitable, sustainable, and meaningful food at Sustainable Food for Thought.

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