In a world overwhelmed with emails, Snapchats, instant messages, texts and general public oversharing, I remain wholeheartedly attached to the old-timey activity of sending handwritten, private correspondence to friends, family, colleagues and everyone in between. But with a bit of a personal twist.
Here’s the story of how my involvement in this now almost antiquated activity began.
Hard to believe that for people born before, say, 1984, cell and smart phones, computers and online platforms, didn’t exist. No, everyone didn’t use smoke signals to communicate, but the telephone was landlocked and you had to be situated where it lived on a desk or a wall to answer it. People weren’t at your beck and call. If you didn’t live it, it’s hard to imagine, but it really was a whole other universe of communicating where location and circumstance played a weighty hand in connecting.
Back then, Hallmark ruled the day when it came to greeting cards. Correspondence that required more emotional surface area was written on beautiful stationery or yellow, lined paper or whatever scrap was lying about.
From 1984 until 2003, I lived in two different massive pre-war Forest Hills Gardens apartments. Just to give you the scope, I had one closet devoted to shoes, another just for handbags, a kitchen with two entrances and a 31-foot living room. Space, baby.
Anyone who cared about a birthday or anniversary or sentiment of any kind wrote cards or letters. Everyone did it. When you were little, you’d get $5 or $10 in a birthday card from a beloved aunt or a love letter from the guy who made your heart stop.
Anyway, people might have sent cards, but with all that extra space, I actually kept most of the correspondence sent to me over those 19 years. When I bought my apartment in Manhattan, let’s just say I downsized. No regrets, but an 850-square-foot, one-bedroom is not a 2,400-square-foot duplex. Purging was the only way to go. However, instead of discarding all those cards and letters, I sorted them out by sender, bundled them up in pretty ribbon and sent them back with a personal note to their original writer.
I must say, unilaterally, my peeps loved getting reacquainted with their former selves; reading and remembering why they wrote me and recalling what was going on in their lives at that time.
So when I moved, I wanted to find a way to keep things personal, so I just kept on writing and sending paper. When I couldn’t find the right visual or sentiment over the counter, I began making my own cards or personalizing something I purchased at the stationery store. The post office made it even more fun with all the clever and unique stamp offerings to add yet another layer of individuality.
When I create or customize a card, I feel like I’m having a visit with the recipient. It’s a lovely activity that I truly enjoy. So next time there’s a special someone or a friend who’s celebrating or commemorating an important event, or you’d like to just take the time to tell them you’re thinking about them, mash it up, make it personal, add stickers or rhinestones or whatever you know they love.
You’d be surprised just how special you can make someone feel when you add your hand to communiqués from the heart.
For my Maker Studio project, I gathered some cards and some of my favorite supplies for creative customization, then sat down with my ThoughtMatter colleagues to spend a Friday afternoon creating our own cards for friends and loved ones.
This summer at ThoughtMatter, we’re ending every week with a “Maker Studio Friday” activity. During each session, a different studio member leads us through a hands–on activity that results in each of us having made something with our hands and minds. The activities help us keep our minds open, and pushes us to create better and more innovative work for our clients.