Lost arts, letter scraps and putting pen to paper…
I read somewhere recently that many schools are no longer teaching cursive handwriting to their students, and I was flabbergasted that the world has come to this! While the advent of computers and word processing has changed the landscape of written language, it seems to me that cursive handwriting is still a valuable skill to have in one’s communications arsenal, if for no other reason than developing a distinctive signature for legal documents. For me, though, it goes far beyond the need for a signature. I believe that cursive handwriting, whether it is especially beautiful or not, is needed for civility and a personal touch in communication.
I’ve been on a bit of a pilfering jag lately around the house, and as is usually the case, I haven’t always found the thing I originally went looking for, but I’ve found other things I had no idea were in my possession. It’s like Christmas finding such wonderful surprises! For at least a decade, Dad has been asking me if I had the recipe for Mama’s Sherry Cake, and I always told him I didn’t think so, but if I found it I’d let him know. A couple of weeks ago in my search for something I didn’t find, I came across a treasure trove of old recipes, including Mama’s Sherry Cake. I gave it a try and took the resulting cake to Dad and Carole’s for them to try and see if it was anything like Dad remembered. It was a yummy taste of nostalgia, although Dad and I both seemed to remember a thicker coating of glaze on top, and we decided that Mama must have double-glazed the cake and didn’t write that part down. I’ll try that next time I make it. And there WILL be a next time. It was delicious!
Seeing her handwriting on that slip of ruled paper, the kind she always kept around the house for letters and lists and recipes, brought me back to the days when I was young, she was healthy and life was simple. Typewritten documents, as neat and easy to read as they are, lack personality and don’t provide that sense of nostalgia. My fear is that writing things down is becoming a lost art, and that future generations literally won’t know how to write their names, because writing things by hand will have become obsolete.
I make it a point to write letters to people now and then, because I think it’s important to do so, especially to convey to them that I love them, that they are special and they matter to me. I have boxes filled with notes, cards and letters from people in my life, past and present, people who took the time to write something down by hand and send it to me. The recipes are another precious source of insight into the people I have loved, memories of food and caring shared among us.
Computer-processed documents have their place, of course. I don’t dispute that. But I will always believe in the importance of handwritten communication, letters, notes, recipes and the kind of one-on-one exchange that only happens when we put pen to paper. So, be checking your mailbox. There might just be a letter from me in there… an honest-to-God, snail-mail, handwritten letter. I might even include a recipe!