You can also read my columns in Cardiff Life Magazine every month.
Each year when the kids return to school in the autumn sporting the latest funky fashions in pencil cases, folders, pads and pens I am a just a little envious of their new stash. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find when browsing Cardiff Life mag last month, a fab selection of fashionable stationary for us adults too (and slightly more sophisticated than Bob the Builder of course!). A colourful double page spread dedicated to pretty post-its and pens, neon satchels and even a good old paperweight. I was reassured to see that even in a digital revolution, there is still some care for the practice of putting pen to paper.
After all, it’s that time of year when we all start to consider whether or not to buy multiple boxes of generic seasonal greetings cards, spend several hours writing each one and then a little longer sticking down the envelopes. Oh, and then there’s an evening or two leafing through the address book only to discover half of those we have in there, are out of date. And so being forced to revert back to texts and emails just to make sure the festive lengths we’ve gone to aren’t just returned to sender.
For all the bother it might involve, I am actually a big fan of the annual Christmas card ‘faff’. It’s precisely the fact that someone has gone to that bother that makes it special when it lands on your mat. I’m an even bigger fan of people actually bothering to write something inside that amounts to more than just a sign-off. And thank goodness I’m not alone. A quick unscientific poll (via Twitter) suggests a good percentage of you are still slaves to the Christmas card effort and many of you go so far as to include a note as well – or perhaps my followers have all just bought shares in Royal Mail?
Either way, despite these Christmas exertions, the hand-written traditional letter is becoming a dying art at most other times of the year. It’s a far cry from when I was a child and the international pen pal network thrived. Whilst my bundles of mail may now be stuffed gathering dust in a drawer at my mum’s, I still find it comforting to know they’re there and form part of the record of my childhood.
These days, even when I found myself in a long distance marriage when my husband moved to play his club rugby in France, it was Skype, Watts App, text and email that became our communications of convenience, rather than cards and letters. In fact, the last time I can remember writing him a letter was when I sneaked 3 envelopes in his kit as he left for the World Cup in New Zealand. They came with instructions to read them as the tour progressed with the hope I might provide a little love, motivation and inspiration with my carefully scribed words. Well, he found them at the airport and opened all of them on the flight out! So, it’s fair to say perhaps not everyone shares my literary sentimentality…
Mrs Andrea Byrne
Encs. Christmas greetings in advance!