The Art of Handwriting

courtesy of nytimes.com

courtesy of nytimes.com

A few months ago, I found myself without a laptop. It so happened that I had several blog ideas floating around my brain, so I did what any normal person would do…I pulled out my notebook and started writing. When I got a new laptop, I transferred all the info into the computer and I was back online. But for the next blog post, instead of opening up the laptop, I chose to pull out the notebook again. I had become used to handwriting my blog. I posted a video to Vine and when a fellow blogger complimented my penmanship, I commented that I should write a post on the ‘Art of Handwriting’ and the seed for this article was planted.

A few weeks ago, my first-grade son came to me and said he wanted to learn to write in script. I helped him. Now, I can barely get him to print anything. I wrote out the cursive alphabet for him to follow, and am about to purchase a practice book. A few days ago, a high school chum posted a NY Times article on Facebook regarding the debate over school requirements to teach cursive writing. A few years ago, I was appalled to hear from a middle-school teacher that schools in New York City were no longer teaching cursive. I know that the advent of computers and Internet technology have eliminated the need to write, but sheesh, don’t we still have to know how to sign things?

My son's attempt at cursive writing

My son’s attempt at cursive writing

Now I understand…there are two different issues here. The first is the fact that children are no longer learning script. But obviously there is still some interest. I am thankful that even my first-grade son sees the value of cursive and took it upon himself to start writing in script. And of course, being a typical little sister, my 5 year-old daughter wants to learn as well.

However, the second issue is a much larger one. The idea of writing…I mean actually writing. With email, instant messaging, video conferencing and other modes of on-the-spot  communication, handwritten notes are often forgotten. Hand-signed Christmas cards are replaced by computer-generated labels and newsletters to family and friends. Birthday and other special occasion cards have turned into online e-cards. And let’s not talk about Thank You cards…sometimes the sentiment itself is barely expressed verbally, let alone by sending a personal note. In high school and college I made a lot of friends from across the country while attending church conventions. We did not have the money to make a lot of long distance calls, and email was not readily available then to keep in touch, so we relied on handwritten letters to communicate. I recall spending hours at stationery stores buying different color parchment papers and matching envelopes to keep in my stash.

Handwritten letter from my Dad

Handwritten letter from my Dad

But where have all the letters gone? This weekend, I ran across one of many notes my father sent me after he and my mother moved to Florida some 18 years ago. Even if he was just sending me a check or some piece of business I needed to handle, he would take the time to drop me a little note. It might be some instruction, or just a written “chit chat” to let me know how the weather had been or what was on his leisurely agenda for that week. Handwritten notes are as important as the human touch itself. It is a personal art form that needs to be preserved and passed on to future generations.

Poor Izzy and Yvette – my children will have MANY notes to save from Mommy once they go off to college!

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