Thursday, December 04, 2003
The Written Word
By Christina Frausto
The goal of this column is to renew an interest in the written word. Through letter writing, investigating books and literature, and renewing our reading and writing we are able to add to our character and enlighten our minds.
"The Gift of a Letter"
"Distance and time is shortened by your letters."
In tribute to the pleasures of letter writing (and receiving) I want to encourage others to renew this wonderful art form of writing personal letters. And I do consider it an art form. There is not only self-expression in the words chosen, but the entire letter and envelope can become an art form in itself. The act of writing and sending a letter can actually be seen as the giving of a gift. A letter can become more than just a means of conveying information to another. A letter can carry qualities of individuality and care. A reflection to the extent that the letter can be seen as a gift is carried out in the amount of individuality, time and thought put into the process of letter giving. Care can be mirrored in every step of the letter writing process.
Before even beginning to put words onto a page thought should be given to a "theme." Is the receiver a gardener or lover of cooking? Then make the letter a reflection of their interests. Whatever the receiver’s hobbies or interests are, it is fun to let them know, not just in words, that you are thinking of them. Enclose along with your words what you think they might enjoy receiving.
To begin, the gift of sending a letter to someone should start with the paper. Chose one that reflects your "theme." Stationary can be as basic as the type purchased at any card shop, or as extravagant as personally monogrammed stationary ordered from the stationer of the British Royal Family, Smythson of Bond Street in London (071-629-8558). A letter written on personalized stationary conveys an entirely different image than a letter written on a sheet of yellow, lined paper from a pad. The image on a particular sheet of stationary could just simply impart your message or be the catalyst for your gift of a theme or topic. If you have a friend that gardens, your letter could reflect the image of a plant or flower. You can even be creative by hand painting your theme onto your stationary.
The gift of sending a letter can continue by enclosing small, special items with the letter, a newspaper clipping, a photograph, a pretty bird feather, coupons, fortune cookie notes. The letter to the gardening friend could have a pressed flower enclosed or a packet of seeds. Your message can be made especially different by taking a calligraphy class and peppering your words or envelope with flourished letters.
The Calligrapher’s Project Book by Susanne Haines is a great book, providing ideas for types of paper, inks, and projects. Pendragon catalogue (1-800-775-PENS) offers art supplies, books, and fine papers. They can send you a sample packet of beautifully handmade papers. Consider making your own envelopes from these great papers. Simply unglue an envelope of desired size to use as a pattern, trace it onto your own paper, cut and glue!
The gift of a letter continues with words that are well chosen. Even if your subject matter is newsy and informal, the letter can be flavored with quotes from the reader’s (or your) favorite author or poem. A message can be formed by clipping out words, symbols, or pictures and glue sticking them to your letter.
Another nice touch is to seal your letters with wax and a stamp. Sealing wax comes in many different colors. Try sealing with red wax stamped by a rubber stamp that has been pressed in gold ink.
Before placing the letter and special enclosures into the envelope spray it with a fragrance that can continue the theme. Place a few petals from a potpourri into the envelope. Just because the letter and the special enclosures are sealed in an envelope doesn’t mean the gift of your letter has ended. The envelope can continue to convey the spirit of the message. The United States Postal Service catalogue (1-800-stamp-24) offers many beautiful thematic stamps. I always keep a box of different stamps around to go with different themes.
If you are still feeling creative, continue to decorate the envelope with stamp art, pen and ink drawings, cutouts, or even watercolor a scene. Interesting rubber stamps and inkpads can be used. Address the envelope with a pen that echoes the colors of your theme.
The title "Gift of a Letter" was taken from Alexandra Stoddard’s book of the same name, a wonderful book dedicated to "one of the most intimate and touching of human expressions": the letter.
Winter 2002 Publication
Copyright © 2002, For You Magazine, All Rights Reserved
FA LA LA LA LA!!!! TIs the season for all of our respective jobs to start playing Christmas music. And not just any Christmas music. Bad Christmas music. Ok, not really bad, because the one at Fess Parkers is Bill Powel, but we do only have ONE CD, and it plays constantly all morning...And the decorations have gone up. Rumor has it that they don't take the tree down every year, just wrap it in plastic and hide it away until next year. We also have white poinsettias in the lobby. Thirty two of them. Excessive much? Until this morning we had one on the counter, which effectively blocked any guest from view. Actually, I'd like that one back. We have some nuts here today. AND SOME VERY NICE PEOPLE TOO!!! (Covering my @$$, just in case my bosses stumble across this....)
I work a double today, but its an easy double. Plenty of time to make it home and shower. Which I didn't do this morning. Don't gross out. As the french know, perfume covers a multitude of evils...have you ever had one of those mornings where you start rationalizing staying in bed...longer and longer until there's no way you're going to make it out of the door on time. Wake up. Breakfast is the first thing that goes. Right? That's 10-15 minutes extra. Go back to sleep. Wake up ten minutes later. Half asleep start planning what to wear so as to eliminate the "standing in front of the closet" five minutes. Sleep for five minutes. Wake up. 40 minutes til you have to leave. This is the moment of truth. The latest possible time that one can wake up and still have a shower. After eliminating the shower, that also gets rid of "drying the hair" time, and the "drying off" time. So, in total, almost twenty minutes extra sleep. That's what happened this morning. The extra minutes won out. Of course, my hair is flat and I'm hungry, but dang it, it seemed like a good idea at a time...