Pattye Benson

Community Matters

love letter

No cryptic-coded text messaging this Valentine’s Day . . . Give a keepsake for the heart; a handwritten love letter

Do you remember the last handwritten note you received? Even more, do you remember the last handwritten note you sent?

With our technologically enhanced communications – e-mail, text messaging, voicemail, Facebook status updates, Twitter tweets . . . it is just so convenient to e-mail people, or to leave one-way voice messages for them, isn’t it?

The trend in text messaging continues to increase . . . it’s quick and it’s fast. The same thing is true with e-mail. You get one and can instantly send a reply. Your answer is quick, to the point and you feel that you have communicated. It might be a short reply to answer an e-mailer or simply an acknowledgement that you received the text or the email.

Hidden behind text-written sentences are cryptic codes and abbreviations. Just look at the endless choices . . . IM, SMS, cell phones, iPhones, Blackberries, Andoids . . . equipment to deliver our messages that seemingly changes daily. It is no longer only teenagers using the mysterious language of acronyms and this “shorthand and online jargon” in their communication. Haven’t we all received “emotions” expressed within e-mails, you know the smiley face emoticons or what about “shouting” that gets expressed by typing in ALL CAPS, perhaps followed by a frowning face.

The handwritten note has been around for hundreds of years yet it is still the most powerful tool of expression. Deciding to write someone by hand is a decision to connect with a person in a unique way. The handwritten note, among the form letters, magazines, invoices and solicitations, announces to your reader that he or she matters to you. The handwritten note is unique. It is private; addressed and received only to the person intended. The handwritten note can be saved and re-read forever.

Because it is not routinely sent, the handwritten note stands out and touches the reader in a way no other form of communication does. It doesn’t interrupt the reader at an inopportune time. We can decide to read it immediately or put it aside to enjoy when it’s convenient.

For those that are holiday-challenged, the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day is around the corner, coming up on Monday. Think romance with a handwritten note. Online messages, e-mails and Facebook posts really are most unromantic. Can you imagine Robert Browning sending text love messages to Elizabeth Barrett Browning when he became interested in her poems? What if Robert had texted his ‘love you forever and ever’ sentiment in abbreviated cryptic code? I wonder if their relationship would have progressed into one of the most famous courtships in literature history.

A handwritten love letter is a keepsake for the heart, a treat for the senses. When was the last time you penned a sweet love letter? In the age of emoticons and e-mails, the personal touch has all but disappeared.

Put the romance back in Valentine’s Day and avoid the traps of an over-priced and over-hyped experience. Make this romantic holiday different this year, set aside the keyboard and use the pen and paper. Instead of the dozen red roses, a box of Godiva’s or the little blue box from Tiffany’s . . . rediscover the thoughtful, handwritten love letter this Valentine’s Day! Don’t be surprised if it is read over and over and saved for years in the desk drawer.

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