Hallmark moments

A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often — just to save it from drying out completely.” — Pam Brown

Shopping for sympathy cards recently, I realized I’d fallen away from my old routine of mailing hand-written cards and notes. And I don’t mean birthday greetings, which I’m pretty good about remembering.

I’m talking about the “thinking of you” cards we send for no reason other than to cheer, entertain, or surprise the recipients. I’m talking about beautiful, heartfelt snail mail. Signed, sealed, delivered.

Now, like everyone else, I rely mostly on e-mail to keep in touch. It’s miraculously fast and convenient, and I use it to full advantage. On the down side, I get overwhelming loads of e-mail every morning — spam filter be damned — and most of it isn’t personal. Some of it is good e-mail, but by the time I’ve sorted through half of it, my eyes have glazed over.

I get pitches from publicists who want me to review new books or products, and newsletters from the various clubs and organizations I belong to. I get the dreaded e-mail chain letters and recycled jokes, too — those “pass this along to 25 of your best friends if you really care about me” messages.

When I was an over-scheduled mom several years ago, writing notes and mailing cards seemed a good way to cultivate the garden of friendship. And I enjoyed the creative act of finding the perfect card for each loved one. A former college room mate, for instance, always appreciated off-beat, off-color humor, and I once spent half a morning laughing aloud at the crazy cards I found for her at the local card shop. Of course, my greeting card ritual included writing a short note with a favorite roller-ball pen, and sometimes adding an article or a column I’d found in the paper.

The beauty of mailing these cards was that nothing was expected in return. The notes I jotted by hand were too short to qualify as letters, and they didn’t require an answer.

Like ironing pillowcases, mailing hand-written cards isn’t mandatory. Yet it makes life a little more beautiful, and, sometimes, more bearable. As author Phyllis Theroux said, to send a card or a letter is “a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” I wonder if I’m the only one who misses that sweet, old-fashioned practice. — Cindy La Ferle

— Garden photo (copyright) by Cindy La Ferle —

15 thoughts on “Hallmark moments

  1. I do miss those Hallmark moments. Isn’t it sad that the internet/technology, which was so hyped as being fast and a timesaver, actually works the opposite? Even though its benefits are many, still, with its advent, we’ve lost many special gestures like letterwriting.

  2. I send cards homemade and purchased often. Actually, Cindy, I often add a quote from your blog. I think many people miss the personal touch that snail mail has always offered them. Todays’ quote from Phyllis Theroux is especially tender.

  3. Harriet, that’s so sweet — I am happy to know you enjoy the quotes I include here.

    I wanted to add this tip to the conversation, while it’s fresh in mind: Author Victoria Moran includes a wonderful essay titled “Ease the E-mail Onslaught” in her book, Living a Charmed Life. In it, she offers some of the best tips ever on e-mail etiquette — many things I wasn’t aware of and probably haven’t handled well in the past … 🙁 Here is the link to the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Living-Charmed-Life-Finding-Moment/dp/0061649899/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268850202&sr=8-1

  4. Just got a lovely card from you, so I have to agree that you do an amazing job at selecting cards. I am inspired by you, and by this post to pick up this form of correspondence. Don’t know why I ever gave it up. It is such a pleasure to send and receive mail.

  5. Such a wonderful friend are You! I like to mail b-day cards to suit each individual and it’s great to hear “you always send the best cards”. Unfortunately, between Xmas and b-days that’s about it for writing 🙁
    I am definitely more of a pick up the phone and chat person but so many are not anymore.
    I too always marvel at your perfect quotes for every occasion!
    Also, I use two email addy’s – one for personal (I almost am completely spam free there) and one for mail order, business, website log ins etc that attract all of that silly mail. It works well for me.

  6. I still send cards, in part because I enjoy shopping for them. Sometimes I buy several to have on hand. There just isn’t any substitute for opening a card that someone has taken the time to select, write a note in, address, and send.

    As for email, this week I unsubscribed to every listserve I was on. I do that periodically to stop the madness that is daily updates. The email I use the most has no part of my name or common word and I rarely receive spam in that account.

  7. You are so right! I miss hand written notes and letters too!

    On the rare occasion I receive one, I stare at the envelope before I open it to savor the pleasure of having received it.

    I send my share of notes but it’s still a fraction of the amount I used too. Thanks for the reminder, I’m going to make a point of doing it more often again.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  8. I miss cards and letters, too. I miss sending them and I miss receiving them. In fact, I think I might send some in the next few days — thanks for the inspiration!

  9. I have saved the cards and letters that were sent to me by loved ones living near and far. And to able to take them out of the box, hold them in my hands and know that although they are gone, in my hand is something that was once in theirs…I find that so comforting.
    Just today I found my uncles handwritten recipe for Irish Soda Bread, and I cried just to see his handwriting.
    In this age of text and twitter and facebook, I still prefer to send a hand picked card or note.

    P.S. I iron pillowcases too:)

  10. Starrlife, I notice, too, that people don’t want to talk on the phone as much these days. I read somewhere that it’s a result of being so over-connected and over-scheduled — social media, text messaging, etc. — that we cannot keep up with it all AND chat freely on the phone.

    Sharon, a great idea to unsubscribe. I need to do that too.

    Bridgette, your story about your uncle’s Irish soda bread brought tears. These days, we don’t see as much handwriting, and I understand why you were so touched. Even though we live very close, my mother (who doesn’t use a computer and has trouble communicating with her hearing loss) will give me a lovely, handwritten thank-you card for “helping” her lately — which touches and breaks my heart.

  11. Thanks for this. I’ve fallen away too, somehow thinking I don’t have time to talk or write. But 5 minutes a day would send one handwritten note, which would be 365 in a year if I sent one every day. I have five minutes. Appreciate your reminder.

  12. Kathleen, I have to admit, even though my intentions are good, I don’t follow through as often as I wish I could. And I have to say, I have been spending so much time blogging (and on Facebook) lately, that I really have neglected some other key areas of my 3-D life. Note cards, aside!

  13. Wonderful post, Cindy.
    I used to do much more of this before email like everyone else. But can I add an observation here… I am much better at keeping in touch via email, as I tend to over think cards and letters and have so many unsent, partially finished, waiting for inserts, photos, gifts, etc.
    An email to my brother to say hi and attach a pic is done, no procrastination, no time in the depths of my purse until I end up feel the moment has passed.

    Having said that , I do want to start trying to make a better effort.

    I can’t tell you how many hours I spent browsing shops in NYC looking for little bits for all my best blogging friends. Except something sort of soon. Except I couldn’t decide and will have to find a cute little shop here. 🙂

    off to iron some pillowcases, even my kids notice if I don’t do this. And they rarely notice domestic anything.

  14. Cindy, this is beautiful and perfect! 😉 I enjoy doing these things so much and they energize my being! I often send “just because” cards for the very reason it is unexpected and it is so heart-warming to be thought of just because! 😉 There is someone who this brought to mind today though who I know I want to do this more for again very soon. I think sometimes our ultimate best friend can sometimes be so close to our heart that we see ourselves so transparently it is hard to know what to say in those seasons and instead we are growing parallel, but certainly I do not want that beautiful bond to dry up in being worried I might say the wrong thing then to say nothing at all. Thank you for this nudge today and I will write her another note soon! 😉 blessings, Jenn

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