Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pen to Paper

I’m staring longingly at my newly created Christmas card. That’s right…completed before Thanksgiving. BooYAH. But I’m not out of the woods yet, because I’m staring at it in jpeg format on my laptop, which, incidentally, is the only format it’s in, thus far. And I’m staring at it longingly because I’m asking myself the question I’ve asked every Christmas season since about 2004:

Would it be very, very wrong to email my Christmas cards out this year?

With just one, tiny, painless Send?

Have we delved far enough into the digital age that this practice would now be acceptable? Would it be just terrible of me to save in printing, paper, envelopes, and postage costs and save you a trip to the mailbox? Would it really? Still?

Sigh. Alright then. But just for the record, I really, really want to.

Again.

You should know: I’m not anti-paper (despite the fact that it’s no secret I want a Kindle for Christmas). No, really, I’ve made sure everyone in my life knows this. But I’m not pro-technology at the expense of the lost art of letter writing. While I’m not exactly your traditional romantic, I do have a love affair with the written word, and no where does it look better--no where does it flow with a more poetic grace--than from pen to parchment. Or at very least, from Kodak to your doorstep.

In a drawer in my bedroom, fifteen volumes of journals still reside in uneven stacks--testimony of years 8-28 of my life (after that, my confessions switched to .doc form). There are entries written on school buses (you can tell from the lurch of the words across the ruled lines). There are entries marred by tears. (Hey, clichés exist for a reason.) There are love letters. There are starts to dozens of different stories of who I was, who I wanted to be, who I was afraid to be…at 12, at 19, at 22, at 26. Births are recorded. Mothers Days and birthdays and best days and really, really bad days are preserved for as long as the ink will last. Reading through them is akin to reading a color-coded line graph of my life…all spikes and dips spanning a range of moods.

Next to these journals are years’ worth of cards and letters. Letters from me to my husband, before he was my husband. Before we were out of high school, even. (Yeah, we were one of those.) Letters from him to me. Notes worn at the folds. Photos slipped from envelopes. Preschool drawings from my children. Little handprints, flaking purple tempera paint all over everything else.

And yeah, they’re all shoved into the back drawer at the back of my life, and all the emails that have made me laugh or made me cry or made me spit out coffee doing both at once are stored deep in the archives of gmail, buried too, but on rainy days, when I take the time to dig them out and remember, that act of uncovering--of slowly sorting and opening and unfolding and inhaling the sharp permeation of twenty-year-old paper--is a holy thing.

So I get it, I really do. I, too, like to hold a thick envelope in my hand and feel the weight of it. I like sliding it open to find a photograph of people I love, or people I miss, or people I’ve lost track of and wish I hadn’t. I like knowing that by virtue of receiving said envelope, its sender has made a statement: you are worth the price of a postage stamp.

It’s a small thing, but it matters. I’m sure everyone on your holiday card list feels this way already, and dammit, I don’t want anyone who receives mine to be any different.

So as much as it pains me to say it, I’m off to buy some stamps.
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