A lament for Mr. Postman

Postscript gets nostalgic for old school letter writing

In this technological era, handwritten letters are like time capsules preserving the memories of friendship.
In this technological era, handwritten letters are like time capsules preserving the memories of friendship.
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In this modern age of e-mails, instant messages and phone-texts, some may say the handwritten letter, more affectionately known as “snail mail,” is a thing of the past.

Well, not me. I still get a little shiver of excitement down my spine when I see a letter with my name on it, and that’s something I’ve never felt with e-mail.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the efficiency and advantages our modern technology has to offer just as much as the next person, maybe even more so. But my true love will always be good old penon- paper letter writing. There’s something so romantic about writing a letter, something purely Jane Austen. Of course, it should also be noted that my friends and I desperately lack the refined penmanship distinctive ofAusten’s many heroines. That’s what makes our letters so enjoyable to read; the chicken scratch writing, little doodles scattered throughout and various clippings of interest are all part of what makes a letter personable. My love affair with writing letters can be traced all the way back to elementary school where, once a month, Mrs. Atkins would set aside an hour for us to write to our pen pals from another school district.

To this day, I can still picture the big block letters written on rough draft papers that more often than
not started with, “Dear so-and-so: How are you? I am fine. I did thisand- that today. How about you?,”
accompanied by a smiley-faced sun and triangular trees. Unfortunately, my budding relationship with letter writing came to an end after Grade 6, only to be rekindled during my first summer away from home, halfway around the globe, in Taiwan. Of course, it didn’t help that for the entire duration, there was no Internet or television, which for a 15-yearold, was beyond intolerable. Long distance calls were obviously out of the question, so I was left with letter writing old school style.

Luckily, my friends pulled through and many memorable letters were exchanged that summer, which proved instrumental to my surviving that excruciatingly long summer. First-year was another turning
point. My letters became not only a way to keep in touch with myold high school friends, but also a journal of sorts, detailing all ofmy misadventures. Somehow, rereading letters to friends about how I missed two buses in a row on my way to main campus and found myself trapped in Stirling Hall’s circular labyrinth seemed funnier in retrospect, and made my life more bearable at that point.

Even now, I still write to my friends on a regular basis. And because I like to draw, my letters
are always filled with doodles of all sorts, whether amusing caricatures of people I’ve met, scenes of rabid squirrels roaming the campus or simply crazy spirals. Some might argue that typing the letter on a computer is just as good, if not better, than handwriting. Sure, the end result is far more legible and—thanks to spell-check—you’re basically guaranteed a mistake-free product each and every time. But that’s all the computer-produced letter would be: a dead piece of paper.

Where’s the life? Where’s the personality? It doesn’t matter if you choose a quirky font and bright
colours, it still isn’t you. Of course, my love for letter writing is fueled by the fact that I’m crazy about stationeries. While other people may obsess about Manolo Blahnik shoes or sports memorabilia, my letterhead collection is my pride and joy. Heaven help you if you stand between a stationery sale and
me. I’ve got it all—simple but elegant, cute little piggies, even fancy paper with monograms on
the top and matching envelopes— something for every mood and every occasion.

In all seriousness, letters are something to be treasured. Like little time capsules, they capture
the moments of our lives. Maybe this is getting a little too Hallmark, but for me, they record the happiness of acing a difficult exam, the frustrations in the pursuit of our goals and dreams, and the
sad moments when you feel like the weight of the world is upon your shoulders. They’re both a
source of comfort and an outlet of suppressed emotions. So, the next time you’re thinking of someone, take some time to write them a letter. I promise you won’t regret it; chances are, they
won’t forget it, either.

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