A large share of my personal friends and acquaintances celebrate their birthdays this month. Jorge begins the April birthday list on All Fools’ Day. One of my oldest pals has his on the 29th. Various friends and a couple of family members were born in between those dates.
Just as I treasure and appreciate greeting cards on my own birthday in the middle of summer, I understand how important it is to acknowledge the birthdays and special commemorations of people I know. Even if I only send something from the greeting card section of the drug store, I do my best to match the sentiment or humor with the recipient. I also like to jot a short message or greeting of my own, inside, before I sign the card.
Even though many of my cousins, friends, and I send each other emails throughout the year, I like to at least send birthday cards and holiday cards, so they have something physical to remind them they’re important people.
I have the good fortune of having a few friends who still exchange bona fide stationary and ink letters with me. My day is brighter when one of those letters arrives curbside in my physical mailbox. An old college classmate writes his letters on three-ring lined notebook paper. Each page features a small doodle or a caricature at the top. The pages are perfectly folded and placed in standard business envelopes. There are usually tiny sketches inked onto the envelopes’ flaps, too.
Regardless of whether letters from my friends are long or brief, I keep each one in an accordion file so I can read them again when I need to be cheered up. I confess that I also kept a few old letters from past lovers, just for posterity.
Before a letter gets archived into the accordion file, I keep it on my desk. Then, I address and stamp an envelope to the person. Keeping the letter and my empty envelope together, I place my best pen on top. This makes a perfect reminder to send a timely reply. In this way, my future letter becomes a top priority.
When the time comes to send my own thoughts, I re-read my friend’s letter or note. Then I find appropriate stationary or a card and compose the reply. When the letter is finished, I proofread it. This is when I sometimes amend the message with a postscript if I left out something I originally intended to say. I then fold and insert the letter into the envelope, but I don’t seal it yet.
Once in awhile one more thought comes to mind before the letter is mailed. I’ll then unfold the letter and add a post-postscript, then refold the letter, place it in the envelope, and finally seal it. Then, it’s on the outgoing mail stack. I smile when the envelope goes into the big blue neighborhood mailbox.
I have an addressed envelope sitting atop the latest letter from my college pal with the fountain pen, ready for a reply, right now, next to my laptop. I should tell him that his letter was the seed for this blog post.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. “If you want to know your true opinion of someone, watch the effect produced in you by the first sight of a letter from him.”