This week, the Wee Man’s Nana is visiting from New Zealand. Whilst we were talking the other day, I remarked how excited he was to get a parcel from her for his birthday, and following this, how the postman will be mobbed if he happens to be posting mail while the Wee Man is in the vicinity. I suggested perhaps she could write him postcards from time to time, so that there actually is something for him in the post rather than our continual influx of bills and junk mail.
Then it got me thinking about when I was a child, and I had a pen pal. The fancy stationary with pictures of cats on, the cartridge pen that always leaked ink over my fingers, stamps that needed licking and the posting of your letter in the box, followed by the huge anticipation of a letter in reply coming through the door a few days later. It didn’t matter that the news was generally quite banal – what we’d had for lunch, how many times we’d been to the park or perhaps tales of an outing on the bus or train, just the simple fact of getting a letter of your own was excitement enough.
Somehow, email just isn’t the same. Emails can be exciting, if you’re waiting for something in particular and you see that tantalising subject heading and sender you were after pop up in your inbox – but it’s never quite like an actual physical letter sitting on your doormat. Even better when it’s handwritten! My Gran maintained handwritten correspondence with me until she passed away two years ago and I still have her letters as treasured memories to show the children when they are older. It’s a lovely record of how much she enjoyed spending time with the Wee Man when he was tiny.
Attending a conference the other day, I noticed amused glances in my direction from some of the other delegates, who sat with their laptops and tablet computers and scorned my ‘1970’s laptop’ – a pad of squared paper and my lovely Cross Click pen. Personally, I like to take notes in handwritten form because it helps me retain information more easily – through the act of writing I feel I am physically inscribing the knowledge into my head, something that doesn’t seem to happen when I am tapping random strings of keys. I love the feel of the pen flowing across the paper, seeing the words form and the crispness of the blank ink against the previously pristine white and grey lined paper. (Having the right pen is important too – I don’t like writing with scratchy cheap ballpoints but the Cross pen is really easy and smooth to write with, and never does that ‘I’m writing but there’s no ink coming out’ thing that frustratingly sometimes happens with pens of the cheap plastic variety).
With the Wee Man just getting to the stage where he has begun preschool and is learning his letters and how they are formed, I think it’s really important that I promote to him the joy of writing in the traditional handwritten style, and not just the inputting of keystrokes into a computer method. Of course I’m sure he’ll have computers and tablets, and have to submit schoolwork typed in neatly justified rows, double spaced in a size 12 sans serif font, but perhaps he will also enjoy the feeling of putting pen to paper and creating something himself as well.
So here’s to a new era of New Zealand postal correspondence, and hopefully many happy handwritten memories to come.