A Handwritten Note

by Valerie Nusbaum

Raise your right hand if you still write notes or letters by hand. Raise your left hand if you send those messages through the mail.  I’m talking about the “real” mail, run by the U.S. Postal Service. The kind of mail where you lick an envelope to seal it and attach a stamp.  Stamps are those tiny square things with the pretty pictures on the non-sticky side. Oh, sorry, friends, all three of you can put your hands down now.

I estimate that’s about how many people actually still write letters these days. If you only communicate through email (which I understand is mostly for dinosaurs like me) or texts and IMs or DMs or whatever else is out there, this column probably won’t interest you. Keep reading, though, because there’s homework, and I know some of you love a challenge.

Now, please raise your right hand again if you know what the term “cursive writing” means.  Raise your left hand if you can do it. I excused myself from raising my hands. I do know and use cursive writing, but I couldn’t type with both hands in the air. Barb and Wanda, you can lower your hands now. Randy prints all his notes, but I can understand why he does it since his written signature is something that resembles a capital “R” and then a straight line.

For those of you who may not know, the term cursive (also sometimes referred to as “script”) is the type of penmanship where letters, or characters, are joined together in a style that flows. It was originally intended to make writing on paper easier and faster.  I’m assuming everyone knows what paper is. Printing, which is what most people do now, is also sometimes called “block lettering.”

I learned to write in the cursive style in second grade, but it’s my understanding that most schools don’t teach the art of penmanship any longer. Why bother when everyone types on a keypad? I understand the logic of that, but it still makes me sad to see another form of art dying out. My mother has lovely penmanship and so does my cousin, Pat. Mine isn’t really flowery and pretty like theirs, but it’s a style all my own. That’s the beauty of handwriting: it’s unique to each individual. In the olden days, kids, the FBI had a whole unit designated for the study and analysis of handwriting.

I also still send cards and an occasional note through the mail, or snail mail, as it’s called in some circles.

Yes, there’s something to be said for instant gratification, which is what comes from emailing or texting, but there’s also something to be said for the anticipation of going to the mailbox and hoping there’s something in there besides bills, advertisements, and donation requests. Anticipation is in short supply these days because most people want what they want right NOW. Because I enjoy receiving cards and letters, I make sure to send them as well. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time and it isn’t too expensive. And maybe, just maybe, I can brighten someone’s day a little.

Okay, you’ve all been very patient, so I won’t make you wait any longer for your assignment.  It’s simple. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, as well as a myriad of other occasions. For such a short month, February is jam-packed with opportunities for sending mail. There’s Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, President’s Day, the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and the Oscars, to name a few. I’d like to ask each of you to send a card (store-bought is fine, but handmade is even better) or a written or printed note (type it if you must) to someone who might appreciate the gesture. We all know someone who would enjoy getting a surprise, right? Don’t grumble that you don’t have time. We’re still in pandemic quarantine mode, and it was just last month that you same people were complaining that there was nothing to do for the holidays.  I see you didn’t spend that extra time sending Christmas cards, or maybe we just haven’t received them yet. Use paper and envelopes you have on hand. Use some of those cards we all get in the mail with donation requests. Just do it. Send someone a note through the mail. You’ll make yourself feel good, and I guarantee that, in most cases, you’ll make someone else smile, too. Granted, there will be one or two people who will receive their mail and say, “Who the heck is Steve and why is he writing to me?” But by far, most people will be pleased.

And, yes folks, I do remember that the USPS has a huge backlog of mail and packages that have yet to be delivered for Christmas.  If you’re worried that your mail won’t get to your recipient before Thanksgiving, then hand-deliver it. Better yet, stick it in someone’s door for them to find later on. I wouldn’t advise not signing your card or note and don’t use the “Guess Who” gag. These are tough times we’re in, and we’re all wary of anything out of the ordinary. 

Lastly, please let me know how your assignment turns out. I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line and tell me.

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