Wednesday

And a High Tech Hello to YOU!



Growing up in the 80's, I was a letter writer.  I had Pen Pals from school projects that I kept for years, I wrote to my friends that I met at camp, I even wrote letters to friends of mine that lived in the same city.  I loved writing letters with fun markers, pens, stickers, stationary, you name it.  My parents would buy an entire circle roll of stamps and I would burn through them like no one's business. Waiting for a response was exhilarating.  Depending on where that letter was coming from, those replies could take anywhere from two days to six weeks if they were from an overseas cousin.  The wait was excruciating and exciting at the same time.  How would they respond? Would they answer all of my questions and comment on all of my stories that I wrote them? I couldn't wait to find out!  When I heard the diesel roar of the mailman's car, my heart would jump from excitement and I would run down the driveway to see if there was anything for me.  Nothing made me happier than finding a colored envelope from another city, state, or even country, with a stamp run through the meter, slight wear and tear on the envelope from its journey through who knows how many hands to find me, and finally, the writing of my name in one of my friends' distinctive handwriting.  Some of these letters were pages and pages long, carefully numbered at the bottom of each perfume sprayed page.  What a thrill of my childhood.  I had boxes of letters saved for years, filed away under my bed.


When  I got to college, the letters continued.  I'd get letters from friends and family and wrote them back faithfully with new stories and adventures in every envelope.  Then, a few years post college, I got the desktop computer with the cd included called America Online.  Email that had just been introduced to me at my post-college office job was now available in my own home.  Imagine the money I will save on my long distance! Imagine the time I will save waiting for a response!  Instant gratification at its finest!  My first week on AOL was beyond amazing.  I wrote to anyone and everyone that I knew had email.  The responses took a half of an hour to a half of a day, but I got the adrenaline rush every time I heard the infamous, "you've got mail!"  The ten minutes it took to 'dial up' and connect was nothing compared to the days I would wait for the mailman!  What a thrill to have a letter at my fingertips.  My beautiful desk full of stationary quickly began to collect dust.


Months and years passed and ecards from Blue Mountain Cards became all the rage.  I stopped sending greeting cards and started sending little animated sillies to people for every occasion including birthdays and anniversaries.  This was fun! I no longer had to panic that I wasn't going to get a card in the mail on time - I could just press send on the keyboard and my job and social obligation was done!  Instantly, I fired off my greetings and salutations easily and effectively, never once thinking hmmm, this is kind of getting impersonal. 


Soon, Instant Messaging came.  Wow, I thought, now I don't even have to wait for an email response! If the chat box says they are online, then they can immediately respond so my message!  And that's when emailing became second fiddle.  Messaging was fun, instantaneous and the new thing to do.  Soon I was never left to wonder for more than minutes or even seconds, what someone was up to or what they were doing that night, or anything.  If I needed to know anything at all, it was within seconds of finding with a few taps on the keyboard.  The ten minute wait to dial up slowly became unacceptable, leading to the internet hookup of the highspeed kind! What's $40 more a month when I could save 10 minutes every time I logged on?

Because ten minutes is just too long to wait for dial-up.
Time flew by without a card or letter in the mail.  I began watching the mailman come and go through season after season, with a box full of bills and marketing mailers, but not a smelly, colored card in sight.  I scratched my head and thought, is this what I've become?  Have I become so lazy and so in need of instantaneous responses that I have forgotten the simplest of joys?  As I pondered this, my cell phone dinged with it's silly little chime with a text message from a friend.  "Happy Mother's Day, hope its a great one."  I looked at the message and saw 'to undisclosed recipients' and rolled my eyes.  Great, now I am grouped in to a mass mailing for a Mother's Day wish. 

Nothing says I care like a mass-message to all of your phone book.
Things are so high tech now.  We have personalized  caller id ring tones for certain people (what is that for, to warn you they are calling when the phone isn't right there for you to look at the number?), we have audio caller id on our home phones so we can hear a woman butcher our friends' names when they call, we have Facebook chat and messages so we no longer use our email accounts and are annoyed when people do send email because no one uses it anymore?  What's becoming of us?  We've got to get back to the simple basics of human interaction.  Maybe it's too late.  I don't know.


I went to TJ Maxx and bought the most beautiful stationary I could.  I went to Michael's and bought a huge box of homemade cards for every occasion, and I even hit the Post Office for a good old-fashioned roll of stamps enough to last me a half of a year.  I dusted off my desk, and unclogged my favorite pen and began to write.  I wrote out  a few Thinking of You  cards, a few Just to Say Hello cards, and even sent a few Birthday cards as well.  My penmanship had suffered and my writing felt awkward and stiff, but after a while, my hand remembered what was once a natural and effortless job.  My heart felt light as I put the red flag on my mailbox up and later, as I peered out the window at the Postman, I couldn't help but giggle as he did a double-take at the rainbow outgoing mail he picked up with a smile.


I don't care who you are, what era you grew up in, how old you are, or where you live.  There is nothing like getting a personalized card from someone in the mail.  Maybe it's just a few minutes more of effort, maybe it's not as quick and easy as an email, or instant message, or text message, but it's special.  And in these days where there is literally no traffic on the extra mile, a little pinch of effort is worth millions.


So my challenge to you is to mail a card today.  Pick someone that you think deserves a little pick-me-up.  It'll make their day, and yours.

Signing off on my instantly published blog,
~DG

16 comments:

  1. I, too, was a letter writer back in the days. I loved the thrill of hearing the pieces of mail hit the floor through the slot in my front door, gleefully hoping one piece of mail would be for me. There is nothing better than to receive a card (or to send one for that matter) that says, 'I'm thinking of you'. In fact, there are a few I will send today, 'just because'. Thanks for the memories and the nudge. What's old is new again :)

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed it...think of me when you mail those cards... xo

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  2. Yes! All of this instant communication has merely resulted in most of us putting minimal thought into the brief one line communications we send out. Most of those communications don't actually say anything to anyone in particular. We're just "putting it out there". Letters are true communication and let someone know, that for at least a few minutes, they were the center of your attention from no matter how far away. It says more that just the words on the page.

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    1. Exactly right! It's just the world we live in! xo

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  3. I just love this so much! I am SO guilty of prefering text or IM over phone call...it's the nature of having access to that convenience in combination with our busy lives. Yesterday I received a card from an aunt..just because...and it literally made my day. I think, Miss DG, you have inspired me to buy a box of cards and spread the cheer as well. Thank you for that. :-) I <3 you to pieces...

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    1. OHHH and I love you to pieces!! How sweet of your Aunt! They are still old school! Have fun writing...xo

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  4. I was just thinking about sending a card out of the blue to people in my life to let them know how much I care..now I am going to...Thank you...nothing like getting a card or letter...Rememeber the long hand written love letters from boyfriends in high school?? sigh...

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    1. My boyfriend wrote me a letter in my Christmas Card and I may never be able to throw it out now. It meant way more to me than the gift it was attached to.

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  5. I was the same way in the early 90s! I had just moved hundreds of miles away from my best friends - the ones I thought I would have FOREVER - thanks to a job transfer my dad took. The thrill of those Barbie sticker covered letters kept us going for a year or two until the sad realization that long distance relationships are hard to keep going without daily interaction. I will say one good thing about technology: thanks to a man named Mark and his social networking website I have been able to track down those long lost friends and stalk, I mean, peer into their adults lives. It's a total blast from the past and makes my childhood memories feel not so long ago and lost - it's helped me reconnect.

    Now all that being said, one thing I regret is not writing more letters to my family; especially my grandmother. Luckily, family is forever, even if you do move to an entirely new country. But even so, only seeing them once every couple of years is rough. My grandmother just passed away last month. In recent years, as an adult, I wrote her often, sent her pictures, and called her, but it still didn't seem like often enough, and the frequency of the letters sent to her were certainly lacking when I was a child. I miss her dearly and the last note she sent is now my most treasured possession. It's nice to have that handwritten keepsake - an email, text, would not hold the same sentiment.

    I'd love to take you up on your challenge, the only issue is the person I most want to send a card to won't be able to receive it. Gosh, I miss that lady :(

    Thanks for listening! Sorry if I hijacked your post with my own ramblings!

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    1. Ohh don't be sorry, I loved reading this! You did write her often and call and send photos and I am certain that made her day!! Maybe sitting down and writing her a letter and putting away with your keepsakes will make you feel better. My grandmothers are 90..I am flying home to see them this weekend, I will squeeze them extra long on your behalf. Hugs, DG

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  6. What a great reminder!! I always have a stash of stationary...I can't turn down cute paper products. Think I'll write a few today!!

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  7. My promise to myself is to start writing letters to my grandkids -- I still have all those old handwritten letters from my grandma, and I cherish them. Of course, lucky for me, my grandkids are only a town away, and I see them a few times a week, so it may be a challenge to find something to write about but I'll find something little or send cards for no reason. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Ohh Barb, I love this - your grandkids will always love those cards! xo

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  8. Just sent off 8 handwritten cards/notes tonight so I love this post!!!

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