In her book, “Persuasion”, the great authoress, Jane Austen said, “let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.” This quote is also a climactic moment in the movie, “The Jane Austen Book Club.” The last time I watched the movie, this particular quote and the events that followed it really hit close to home for me and made me think about something that has always been close to my heart: sending and receiving handwritten letters and cards.
When I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother NEVER forgot a major holiday. She had VIP status at her local Hallmark Gold Crown store because she spent hundreds of dollars each year buying cards for each of her children and grandchildren. I always looked forward to the Halloween card, the Valentine’s Day card and of course the birthday card with a check for the amount in which we were turning that year. Those are sweet sweet memories. Recently my mother found a handwritten letter in pink ink that I had sent to my grandma in the 90’s and it just made me smile. 1. My personality hasn’t changed much, 2. I’m still in love with pink ink and 3. It reaffirmed my appreciation for that gesture of love that came with something handwritten.
In this new age of texting, email, and direct message on Instagram I feel like there is a disconnect to reality. The reality of effort. Effort that is put forth when we pour our heart out in a letter. My grandfather was a decorated Air Force pilot during World War II and he and my grandmother exchanged many many letters while he was overseas flying in Europe and she was teaching school in Idaho. That interaction solidified their relationship that lasted for 50+ years until she passed away from cancer. And even after she passed away we still knew we could count on handwritten birthday cards from Grandpa. My maternal grandmother has also been incredibly thoughtful with handwritten cards and letters over the years. I may be an adult, but I love that I have a Grandma who sent me a handmade valentine this year. Xoxox from Grandma is just wonderful.
The older I get the more I start to see the traditions I've set in my life that stem from the examples of my family. One of them is handwritten sentiments in the mail. I am not very good at remembering ALL the friends' birthdays, but I have recently implemented a little thing called "Happy Mail from the Hood." Why the 'hood? Well, Ogden has a bit of a rep and people who don't live here often give me crap about willingly choosing to live here so why not have a bit of healthy mockery. What they don't know is living in Ogden has inspired me to think more outside the box thus this little mail ditty.
Initially it started out as a funny way to send encouragement back and forth between my friend and I while she lived in Seattle. Below are some examples of cards that I received from her over the last couple of years (yes, I've saved all of them)
As I started to develop friendships with my lovely, courageous Instagram followers I decided to broaden the audience. Each card is hand picked at a locally owned card store and the sole purpose is to be random, hilarious, and completely irreverent, but encouraging. That's pretty much how I approach life so why not gift it to everyone else. So far Happy Mail from the Hood has landed itself in Wyoming, England, Colorado, Utah, New Zealand and Illinois. For each card sent, the timing has been impeccable and the same goes for happy mail I've received. It just lands in the box when it's needed most. It has been so much fun and has taught me to keep thinking outside of myself because usually someone else needs a card with a flying fairy and her exposed underpants more than I need to lay in my bed and feel sorry for myself after a crap day.
Moral of the story: write it out. Tell the one you love the most by making the effort to put pen to paper.
Until next time, my lovelies!