I got the most amazing thing in the mail yesterday.
Not a bill or an advertisement. Not an envelope thick with coupons for services I'll never use. (Steam clean my carpets? Why? Can't we just move?) Not a lovely picture of my car and its plates as it barreled through an intersection one millisecond after the light turned red. (Never happened. This is just poetic license, of course.) Not a birth announcement or wedding invitation - though I do squeal with delight when I get those. No.
It was an actual letter. On actual stationery. I think the last time I received anything like this was when I was in second grade and had a pen pal. Seriously.
We got pictures done of The Incredible Hulk when he turned 6 months old and were maniacs about purchasing the pictures. We bought everything. But, we did so with purpose because we wanted to send pictures to some of our grandparents; the baby's great-grandparents. Because while my grandmothers both use email (and one is on Facebook - I know, how cool is that?), my husband's grandparents don't use (or have access to) the Internet. And because they live in another state, they've never even met the baby. So, I went about finding some simple cards to stick some photographs in with a little note. My grandmother sent me an email immediately upon receiving them saying that she and my grandfather actually wanted to make a special trip out to show off the pictures to their friends. That was awesome.
I never expected that a few days later, I would receive an actual letter from Jim's grandmother to let us know she got the pictures.
And, I must say - it was the cutest letter ever. She thanked us for the pictures - saying that it turned an otherwise gray and rainy day into one that was "75 degrees and sunny!" She told me about the church dinner they had just attended. She told me that she and Jim's grandpa have both been painting and that they fight over the kitchen table - because "it's the one with the best light." I read the letter out loud to Jim (her script is hard to make out, but I read charts and doctor's orders all day so I can decode even the messiest penmanship) and we both smiled and laughed throughout the whole thing. I realized upon reading it that letter writing is a lost art. While some people are still great about sending handwritten notes every once in awhile, or at least being awesome at writing a heartfelt and personal email (my grandma, for example) - our children will probably never know the great art of letter writing. They may never know the magic of matching stationery or of bounding to the mailbox to look inside. (Okay, I still do that because I actually like paying the bills. It's my favorite chore. Well, that or laundry. I know, it's weird.)
There are several of life's "art forms" that we're being robbed of by technology. Clearly, I'm not completely against technology. As evidenced by my Twitter account, my smart phone, my obsession with satellite radio, my wish to own an iPad, or THIS BLOG - I'm not afraid of technology. I welcome it. I just hope that my son grows up to still appreciate a handwritten letter as much as we did this week. Even if email becomes the norm.
I realize my son will probably never own an actual CD. With a jewel case and album art and lyrics printed inside. And his iPod (if those even still exist) will probably be small enough to fit on the head of a pin or something cool like that.
My son will never go to have a roll of film processed.
He will have kept in touch with all of his friends from high school through social media and so his 20 year high school reunion won't be filled with big surprises.
He'll never have to call me from a pay phone outside of a movie theatre to have me pick him up because having a cell phone before you can drive will completely be the norm.
My sister and I used to love this television show but it came on at 6:00 am, so we had to actually get out of bed in time to watch it. If my son has a must-see show like that, he'll just be able to TiVo it and watch it when he gets up. (Actually, this is genius. Then mommy can sleep in too!)
And what about books? Listen, I have thought eBooks were really cool and handy every since I first heard of the new technology. But, I am so afraid of what they are going to do to one of my favorite hobbies. My friends and I have always traded books back and forth, but the number of people I can do that with is slowly dwindling as more and more have traded those treasured pages for a nifty new gadget. I can't say I wouldn't mind owning one of those gadgets myself, but a huge part of me will always long for the smell of a book. The feeling of cracking the spine of a new book. I walked around a Borders nearby that is going bankrupt and almost burst into tears at the sad sight of it. Everything was so picked over. The children's book section looked like a tornado went through it. What happens to all of those unwanted books? It sounds like the makings for a Disney movie, but seriously - I want my son to know the joy of reading out of a big illustrated book. (And not one that is on a small touch screen.)
But mostly - I just hope he gets a letter, a real live letter, from someone that makes his day every once in awhile. Who knows? Maybe I'll be his weird old-fashioned mother that sends one to him myself - and then turns up the jams on her satellite radio.