Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Lost Art

I’m a traditionalist. 
I still appreciate at least twenty viewings of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation between December 1 and Dec. 25, annually.

I nearly had a heart attack the day I heard the Steelers were going to be playing on Heinz Field, rather than Three-Rivers Stadium

I had a great appreciation for Paul Harvey at the age of six, mainly because it was what we listened to everyday on our way to kindergarten. Talk about an education, always knowing the rest of the story. 
But please hear me out:

I have a legitimate concern that one day the many traditional arts that were so important to my generation, and the ones that laid the ground before, will be a lost art to the many that follow. 
The first is written communication.
Let me recap for you an instant message conversation I had with a co-worker last week:
Me: Many thanks for printing that agenda off for me....wasn’t sure I’d make it in time
Co-worker: yw
Me: What?
Co-worker: np
Me: ??
Co-worker: nm
Me: Are you having a seizure?
The following message could not be delivered to all participants: 
Are you having a seizure?
I was thoroughly confused. 
Jean’s Boots readers take note:
“yw” is the new “You’re welcome”
“np” means “No problem”
“nm” can be summarized as the 2011 version of, “You’re frustrating the heck out of me - never mind I even started this conversation”
Additional note: "ty" is the new "Thank You" and "pls" has replaced "Please" 
Who knew? 
And another thing. What is so terrible about moving your fingers twelve more strokes to spell out the complete word?
The worst is logging onto Facebook and seeing a “friend” of mine write “hbd” rather than “Happy Birthday” on another person’s wall. I won’t tell you this habitual offender is my older brother. It’s too embarrassing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to text and use blackberry messenger as much as the next twenty-something. Any way to speed up mediocre conversation is usually fine by me. But a dear friend in Nebraska summed it up very well in his response to my question, "In this life, what is something you truly know?"
I know that email and text are nice, but they sure don't compare to a phone call or a hand written letter.
Besides a traditionalist, I'm also a creature of habit. But, let’s be honest, I'm mostly a traditionalist. As for the habit thing, I haven’t flossed in three days, I forgot to set my house alarm Monday before leaving for work and when the trash guy came Tuesday at 7:03 a.m., as he has for nearly three years, I simply waved farewell to him from my side porch, barefoot, holding two CVS bags full of yesterday’s news. The sad eyes didn’t help; he waved right back while pulling out onto the highway. 
When I moved to Washington, DC, I made a commitment to write a letter (the kind delivered in an envelope that gives you a paper cut on your tongue and that has a real stamp that will one day be collected) to my Grandma and Granddad every Wednesday at 7:00 a.m. 
And I stuck with it, every single Wednesday. 
Even when I was on the road, I'd drop a postcard from my surprise location in the mail. I always looked forward to those simple Wednesday mornings when I could sit down and express myself with ink and paper; it was then that I could write about the adventures of a small town girl with big dreams to positively impact lives. It was then that I could thank Grandma and Granddad for instilling such deep agricultural roots in me. Those traditional hand-written mornings made Wednesday, with out a doubt, my favorite day of the week. 
Though Granddad is gone (I read a few of those letters at his funeral; he once told my Momma: "You know, I never make the trip to go out and get the mail these days; it's always bills. But every Friday I'm sure to be the one who picks it up. Fridays there is always a letter from Lindsay."), and I’m out of the big city, you now know why I post this blog every Wednesday morning at 7:00. Because I can share my life adventures with all of you, Wednesdays are still my favorite. 
Because of today's evolving times, we’re changing American tradition, and American etiquette, one email and text message at a time. 
Thank you cards are now half price at Hallmark.
Of the 17 pieces of mail I’ve received this week, only one had a hand written address. 
I haven’t seen cursive writing since I photographed the Original Jean’s quarter-century-year-old note in a blog a month ago. 

Love letters were replaced with promiscuous emails.
Humorous articles once clipped from the the newspaper and mailed to a friend were replaced by

Funny Sports Ecard: Thank God we averted the disaster of not being able to watch football while the country plummets toward financial ruin.

Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: Let's get our mind off America's debt crisis by maxing out our credit cards on a reckless shopping binge.
Post cards from wild west adventures now sit back seat to picture text messages that are received in a matter of seconds. 

Let me ask you recall the last time you received a hand written letter in the mail?
Do you remember how exciting it was to open the envelope and read through the message revealed inside?
Perhaps more importantly, do you recall how to use a letter opener?
My ask of you is that you sit down in the next week, find a blank sheet of paper and send a letter, or a simple note, to someone you’ve not had the chance to contact in some time. The fulfillment you receive while putting your thoughts and feelings on paper won’t come close to the anticipation they feel as they read your return address while curiously opening the envelope. 
What you’ll be supporting is a lost art, in this day and age. 
What you may create is a tradition that could be worth holding on to for years. 
Why not set aside one day a week, or even one day a month, and write a traditional letter to someone in your life?
What’s it going to hurt? 
Let’s be real; you and I both know your second grade teacher always said you could use all the practice you could get on the cursive, upper case “S”....


  1. This one brought back some great memories for me. As a person who has horrible handwriting, I have totally moved away from hand written communications as my husband can't even go to the grocery store without calling to clarify the list. Your post reminded me of a dear friend of mine who left his home in Oklhaoma for the marine corps at the same time that I went to college in Wisconsin. We wrote weekly and our letters were pages long. His handwriting was very tidy, I wonder if he was able to read mine? My letters found him in boot camp, California and Desert Storm. His found me finding my way through college, moving through graduate school and venturing out into the "real world." I can still recall the excitement when I'd find the most recent letter complete with funny notes on the outside. Inside I would feel relief as I knew that for the time being he was alright, physically and mentally with his sense of humor still in tact. When you write with a pen and paper you put more thought into it, and you can feel the writer through their script and at times, the blur of tears on a page. I still have those letters in a box somewhere, and they'll remain there long after my email and text files have been purged. The handwritten word truly is a lost art and although my handwriting may seem like modern art and at times needs a little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring, I just might need to rethink my ban on it. Thanks Lindsay!

  2. What I find particularly sad is that in our state cursive writing is no longer a mandatory part of the curriculum.

    How will future generations be able to read the letters of grandparents and great grandparents from long ago?

    What about studying the Constitution! Signing your name? Researching old documents?

    ...and people get upset when we say we are homeschooling. ;)