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From pen to paper

For many of us, our earliest memories of writing a letter are all wrapped up with the magic of Christmas. In our best cursive script, we’d carefully itemise our wish list to Father Christmas. Then sign, seal and send it off, addressing it to North Pole or whizzing it up the chimney.  These days, the art of letter writing seems to be a dwindling one. But it’s one that we, at Neptune, applaud and think is worth preserving.

If you currently have a neat stack of Christmas cards waiting to be written, you might well be wishing they would write themselves. But, when you think about it, that pile of cards represents so much of what we all love about Christmas. Reaching out to loved ones, celebrating – or rekindling – the love.

It’s also the act of putting pen to paper that we should treasure. Yes, writing each missive will take up a few minutes of your day. But think of what those few moments of thoughtfulness can generate.

The sound of post dropping onto the doormat is a lovely one – especially when you know it’s cards, not bills. That’s how good news should arrive – with the satisfying rattle of the letterbox. And not, we hasten to add, with the automated ping of your inbox.

Yes, it’s tempting to send circular emails, updating friends and family on your year. But emails and texts are how we communicate for business. For work, for deliveries of groceries or to tell someone we’re running late. It’s worth keeping that division between the everyday and the personal at this special time of year.

Aside from the emotional warmth, there are scientific reasons behind why writing letters and cards is important. From the earliest age, our brains process ideas differently we put pen to paper. We consider and then remember things more vividly when we write them down. That’s why children still need to learn to write each letter at a time, not type on a keyboard.

Typing lets us ‘write’ faster – but speed can obliterate all sense of the personal. Handwriting lets our creativity flow. What’s more, our own personal style – our hand – is instantly recognisable to others. After all, the sight of a note written by your own partner, parent or even a grandparent can conjure up their presence as clearly as the sound of their voice. No matter when it was written.

So take time to write cards or letters by hand. Set aside an afternoon or evening. And write something that’s heartfelt. It’s a little disappointing to open a card and read simply your name at the top, the sender’s signature at the bottom. Adding just a few lines to update or send good wishes makes all the difference. It’s better to write ten interesting cards than 20 with a pre-printed message. It’s about quality not quantity.

Writing cards, letters – even present labels – has always been part of the charmed season that is Christmas. This is a time to step back from hurly burly of everyday routines and reconnect. So try to enjoy this tradition rather than rushing it. And, with any luck, you’ll also get to enjoy a stack of handwritten cards in return. 

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