Before computers, word processors, typewriters, and printing presses, humans were left with only writing by hand to put words somewhere other than their heads and the air – oral traditions and histories, you know.
Monks transcribed massive tomes and illustrated illuminated manuscripts, the literate could write letters, and some guild members could paint lettered signs. Regardless, it was all done by hand until the advent of the printing press in 1436 (which still required hand involvement).
Typewriters entered the scene in 1868, followed by word processors in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s (my family had one of these, complete with floppy disks), and then home computers entered the scene not long after that and still thrive in the form of desktop models, laptops, and tablets. This brief history of word conveyance serves as a means to say that even though I have a laptop, a tablet, a wireless keyboard in the style of a typewriter, plus two actual typewriters for decoration – I still write by hand a lot of the time.
The first drafts of my two novels (that have yet to see the light of day) were handwritten in notebooks and journals. My grocery and to-do lists are handwritten (because I love physically crossing items off – digitally deleting a list item doesn’t give the same kind of satisfaction). And I love personally addressing and handwriting letters and cards, which brings me to the topic at hand – Christmas cards.
This year, as a small business owner with no employees, I decided to make holiday cards to send out to work associates and community members, and, of course, I’ll be writing personal messages to each individual.
I also patronized a couple of Etsy creatives and ordered some cards to send out to friends and family. In years past, I would actually make the cards, but as I get older and my schedule fills up, and my list of card recipients grows, it makes far more sense to pick out unique cards and support artists and small business owners like myself. Plus, it saves me a lot of time during a hectic season.
Sometimes the cards I select have a classic vintage vibe, and sometimes they’re actual vintage cards from decades ago. Other times, I go a more unexpected route and pick contemporary styles or designs that showcase cute bats with Santa hats.
This year is a mixture of the two. Based on the recipient, I’ll send either a modern winterscape scene, complete with snow-laden homes and evergreen trees or a letterpress card featuring a bear wearing a Santa hat and serving a ham. (I apologize for the blurred images, but I don’t want to completely give my creative selections away before mailing them out.) I also determine the style to send based on whether I think someone will “get” my humor or quirkiness because receiving a holiday greeting with a desiccated tree on the front with bats flitting about may come across as too Wednesday Addams/Tim Burton for some.
And the finishing touch to my card giving process? Aside from a handpicked card, seasonal stamps, and my cursive-print handwriting, I seal my envelopes with colored wax. There is something terribly romantic and medieval about sealing a missive with wax. I wish I had a family crest with which to create a signet ring because I would commission that in a heartbeat. But, alas, this year, I will be using my new typewriter stamp to leave a writerly impression in the sealing wax. Unfortunately, the wax seals don’t always survive the holiday madness of the USPS, but I still feel like the finishing touch is necessary.
Handwriting messages, supporting artists, burning my thumb to use the last bit of wax – it’s all part of fulfilling my love languages of gift-giving (the reverse of receiving gifts), acts of service, and words of affirmation but also unconditional love. Because if this holiday season should be about anything, it’s kindness, generosity, and expressing your love for those in your life, and what conveys those messages more than a heartfelt, handwritten card wishing others the very best for the season at hand and the new year to come?
Coming up next:
Monday, December 19
A Year of Firsts