Nostalgia for Paper

Throughout her life, my Grandma Ellen wrote letters. She had a whole area of her table dedicated to the art: lovely pens, sharpened pencils, and an index box of addresses. She even had a fancy blue letter opener that sliced her mail with a precise ‘swish’. Gram wrote to her sister, her friends around the world, her colleagues, and when I went away to college, to me.

I cherish those letters. Not only were they a connection to home and a link to my favorite woman in the world, they are also probably the last REAL letters I ever received.
Written on a legal pad, with black felt pen, on both sides, Gram would write in flowing script of the weather, the neighbors, books, and her hopes for me. I remember tearing into those letters feverishly, and how each one felt like a present. Each one held promise – and occasionally some cash.
It’s all different now. The Internet creates a whole different, more immediate world. It has its advantages. It’s fast. It’s easy.
But you can’t touch an email. You can’t listen to the crackle when you unfold it; you can’t smell the ink or see the artful curve of penmanship that managed to convey far more than mere words.
I miss my Grandma tonight. I miss her words, and the way her hugs always included a pat on my back. I miss her boundless energy and joy. But I remain grateful for the paper on which her words remain, and on which bits of her written long-hand.

Maybe tonight you should write someone you love a real letter. With a real pen. Maybe you should even mail it.

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