We all know that not all friends are equal. And that friendships evolve and change — sometimes in an instant. Within the lovely people in your life that you consider close, there is a special place for those who have shown you something that most other people don’t get to see. Something that is uniquely theirs. Something that unlocks a whole new level of intimacy.
I’m talking about their handwriting.
Receiving a card in the mail is a rare treat nowadays — a sparkling beam of sunshine in the slush pile of medical bills, postcards from pushy realtors, and assorted random junk. There you are, tearing up envelopes at speed when suddenly you spot your name actually handwritten by a human being. It stops you on your tracks.
When the card comes from an old friend, there’s something comforting in recognizing their handwriting. Maybe it takes you back to your high school days together, when you passed notes back and forth dissecting the details of your most recent interaction with the crush du jour. Or back to college, when you borrowed their notes — yes, you’re both old enough that you took paper notes and you went to Kinko’s pretty regularly to make copies. It’s a flashback to that time when you were a new mom, overwhelmed and running on empty, and she scribbled the name and phone number of her trusted therapist.
And then there’s the bright ray of sunshine of receiving a card from a new friend for the first time. We learn so much in an instant. Oh, that’s their handwriting? Is it chicken scratch, or is it oddly big and round? Are we looking at professional-grade calligraphy drilled in by catholic nuns until it was perfect? It is a window to a vulnerability that we hadn’t had access to until this moment.
Every year in early December, when I update the list of recipients for our holiday card, I genuinely worry about intruding with some of the new names on the list. Is it too much, sending them a handwritten card, to their home address? It’s up there with a phone call out of the blue — you just don’t do that. In 2022, it’s simply uncivilized.
Then I remember that it absolutely makes my day to find a little envelope in the mailbox, a note that someone took the time to think about and write and send me, and I keep the otter stamps going.