If I were to ask you what role stationery plays in your life, what would you say? Do you even consider it a part of your life? I'll bet you don't really think about it (unless you're a rare-bird-paper-collector-freak and you have boxes and boxes of it in your closet) or only think about it when you need a birthday card five minutes ago.
My feeling is that there is indeed a certain type of person (read: woman) who does consider stationery an essential part of human interaction and gift giving, but what about the rest of the population? Who is thinking about stationery and why aren't they thinking about it more?
This is something I have been agonizing over for weeks now, and more to the point, why do I feel so strongly about it? Are you rolling your eyes and asking yourself 'who in their right mind has strong feelings about stationery?' Well, now you know one person for sure.
As I rolled around bed last night being kept awake by this dilemma (could this be a first world problem? Yes, yes it is), I tried to find another product in the world that I could compare stationery to and what I came up with is band-aids. Here me out: It's an item that we all have in our home, spend a few dollars for a box, use only when we really need it and otherwise, don't think much about. I think that can be said for stationery as well, except that I would gather that not everyone has a stack of unused cards in their home.
This is where stationery and band-aids diverge onto separate paths. Band-aids will always be used on a 'need-to-use' basis whereas stationery can (and I would argue, should) be used any time for any purpose.
I understand that there will always be a section of the population who just couldn't be bothered with stationery but what if there was a way to bring it closer to our attention in everyday life? What if there was a movement towards reigniting the sentiment and tradition that stationery symbolizes? I've already seen the slow shift towards letter writing and sending snail mail within that community (stationers, retailers and stationery customers) but I am more curious about how to start shifting it outwards — how to broaden the scope and reignite a passion for the handwritten note.
I use this famous image to hopefully draw on the emotion of a time when letter writing was the way to communicate when you couldn't just call or email or text or even, stop by. Do you ever wonder what was said in all those letters? The words — the affections, convictions and declarations? So much of our own history is documented by writing to one another and it's being lost to a fast and forgettable way of communicating. We barely think on what we want to say or need to say or are too afraid to say that we are losing pieces of ourselves. We are losing the memories of the feelings we have for a new love, an aging parent, an old friend by simply clicking and sending.
My husband was deployed almost as soon as when he and I first met. We were lucky that he had an internet connection for those five months so that staying in touch was easy but I still sent him postcards and packages with handwritten notes and little trinkets I made or found. The emails have long been forgotten or deleted which I think is sad. There is no record of those first months of yearning and uncertainty, of getting to know each other in a way that doesn't happen anymore (thank you Tinder). There are no letters that our families will be able to read or hold dear in years to come or that we could even go back to when we are old and forget the details of those first days. What is most special is coming across the little notes, postcards and trinkets that I did send him when I am sorting through this or looking through that. There is something more magical about the tangible sentiments that we share with one another that cannot be deleted or edited.
When we sit down to write a letter or just a note we are taking the time to contemplate what it is we want to say or simply convey. We are allowing space for reflection and deepening our memory of the feeling we are trying to share in handwritten words. It is often said that if you want to achieve something you should write it down because our brains and bodies have a way of processing that information differently. I believe this goes for letter writing as well. We may not be documenting goals or plans but we are documenting feeling and connection, which one might argue are more important that any goal or plan. And my goodness who doesn't love finding an old note from grade school or a letter you wrote to your first love in grade seven?
There is no denying that handwritten letters are special and need to find their way back into our daily lives.
Stationery means connection. Sure it takes away the human contact but it forces you to connect deeper to sentiment. Without the immediate gratification of a text or email, it demands patience and more time to discover one another.
Perhaps you are feeling inspired a little after reading this and want to keep a few cards on hand for when the mood strikes you. It would be my honour to play some small role in that connection by creating cards that people love and share. More than half the shop is half price which is a good place to start if you're unsure about the role stationery plays in your life. Or leave a comment below and I will send you something just for fun if you promise to send me something back — just to test the water :)