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  • Writer's pictureRachael Scarr

Power of the Written Word

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

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Handwriting? Outdated. Sending mail? Outdated.

We have so many ways of keeping in contact with people and getting info to them FAST. It’s great, it’s progressive, it comes in handy, but sometimes the heart and power of what we are saying is lost.

Have you ever received a handwritten note in the mail? One inscribed to you by pen and not print? One just wishing you well or sending positive thoughts and not asking you to apply for a credit card, spend money, or vote for some rando? If you have, you’ll know that it’s magical. That there’s nothing like it. And, that it’s necessary.

I think my love for writing cards started with my grandmother. She had a huge white wicker filing cabinet in the guest room of her West Virginia home that was filled with cards for all occasions. They were separated into labeled folders and categorized accordingly. She had ones for birthdays, Christmas, sympathy, congratulations, engagements, Halloween, you name it, and she would never hesitate to pull one out, write some thoughtful words, and send it along to whoever was on her mind at that moment.

Receiving a card from her was special. It was comforting, inspiring (as they usually had a story or scripture printed on the back), and even sometimes surprising - as she would often fill them with confetti that would fly out onto the floor upon opening. Knowing she had taken the time to carefully select a card for me, fill it out with loving sentiment, and send it through the mail to whatever my current address was at the time meant the world to me. And, it means even more now that she’s gone. It means I still have little bits of her with me. Little memories. Little momentos. There are times when I’ll be going through papers or boxes and a card that she had written to me will pop up. It stops me in my tracks and brings me joy once again. Seeing her cursive handwriting gives me warmth and reminds me of her love. That’s some powerful stuff.

My mother certainly carries on these traits - the apple didn’t fall too far. She has inherited my grandmother’s wicker cabinet and it now sits in their guest room (or rather, my old bedroom) back home. She’s always sending me beautiful cards, for many an occasion, filled to the brim with heart-felt words - written in script - and often, making me cry with her thoughtful nature. Again, these cards mean the world. I of course know how my mother feels about me, but seeing it in writing, being able to hold onto it, cherish it, read it time and time again…that’s special. That’s unique. That’s dear.

I, too, have the desire to send. To write, to give, to think about the ones I love and show them often just how much. Over the years, I have formed my very own collection of cards and stationary. Although it’s a lot smaller than my grandma’s (so far), it definitely features quite a few of her unused classics. That, and a plethora of occasion cards I swiped from Papyrus on clearance before they went out of business at so many of my favorite locations in the city (*sob* RIP)! Paper Source, and honestly your local drug store, have some great ones as well. I love a good card store, site, sale, or aisle.

I have calendar reminders set on my phone for special occasions - ones where a card is in order. If I don’t have one already, I’ll often go out and hand-select a card individually depending on the person and the occasion. There are also times, however, when a card will simply catch my eye and I’ll pick it up and add it to the collection for future use - saving it for just the right moment. Sometimes cards make me think of someone in particular and other times they’re just cute and good to have around, to send at a moments notice - whenever the mood strikes. It’s great giving cards for occasions, but it’s also nice sending them just because. I love having options, choices. Different cards for different vibes and different happenings.

My boyfriend and I have very similar love languages and therefore love to uplift one another through cards and words. The first year of our relationship we celebrated each month we were together with some type of special date night and a card. These cards were beautiful in nature, yes, but also so incredibly special, as they documented our love and its growth over time. Even though we no longer exchange cards every month, we still celebrate each birthday and momentous anniversary with heart-felt words and reflection. It is one of my favorite traditions.

Giving a card is not just about the card itself. The pizazz, the sparkle, the gimmick, the intricate design. What truly makes that mailing, that gifting, special is the sentiment inside. The words you choose and the thoughts you share. I like the recipient knowing they were on my mind. That I took the time to pause and reflect on their place in my life, their impact. What they mean to me and how they inspire me. I like the idea of my pretty card sitting out on their desk or their dresser or their table for a little bit of time, adding color to their day, and reminding them of me and my love for them, my respect, my appreciation. All of that sealed into one unassuming envelope. One unexpected, warmth-inducing piece of mail.

Whether it be through the mail or in person, whether it be for a birthday or anniversary or funeral, writing out my well wishes, my admiration, my sympathy is important to me, and hopefully also, meaningful to them. Not just now, but forevermore.

The written word is a powerful thing. It has the ability to touch us at our core. To remind us of our humanity by highlighting relationship. Typing is clean and looks professional…but handwriting is sweet and sentimental. It’s personal. It’s powerful. And I pray we never lose it.

I don’t quite send out as many cards I’d like. I’m not yet at grandmother status (but that is most certainly the goal). Schedules are busy and life can get in the way. But whenever I can, and whenever I think of it, I like to stop and take a moment, find a card, pen my thoughts, and pass it on. I’d like to think that in that way, among hopefully many others, my grandmother’s thoughtful and caring spirit lives on. And that no matter how technologically advanced this world gets, humanity and the power of the (actual) written word prevail.

Whether you have a pen pal or you haven’t written a note since grade school, I encourage you to write down your thoughts and share them with the ones you love. Time is precious and words are powerful. Why not take advantage?

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Nov 03, 2021

Thank you very much!

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You're welcome!

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