All of us who care about our good green earth are doing our best to cut back on paper. We get ourselves off catalog and junk mail lists, receive electronic bills, and bank online; we email, text, and read the news on the web. With a houseful of children’s paraphernalia, the last thing we need is more paper clutter. And since most of the paper that passes through our hands eventually winds up in the recycling pile, doesn’t it make sense to forego any non-essential paper in the first place?
But still, for all that, we would never give up the old-fashioned joy of the handwritten note. A letter arriving in the mail is a bit of magic, a gift waiting to be opened and savored. Our preschoolers remind us of this with their unmitigated excitement over the anything remotely pretty arriving in the mail. “Is it for me?” they want to know, and often it is—a Valentine from a devoted grandparent or one of a steady stream of birthday party invitations. How kids treasure these colorful bits of card stock! We’ve had to learn the hard way to note down those party details quickly lest the lucky invitee get her hands on the card, and squirrel it away in a secret hiding place not to be found until long after the party date has come and gone.
So it seems that all of us, young and old, understand the pleasures of receiving. But what about writing and sending? We mean to send those thank you notes and birthday cards and other little missives, we do. But somehow in the rush of it all, they don’t always get out the door.
A preschooler in the house, however, gives us every reason to renew our commitment to the handwritten note. For starters, we want our kids to learn to send thank you notes, postcards and letters. (Specifically, we hope that someday they’ll send us notes, postcards and letters.) Secondly, small children make excellent coauthors of paper correspondence of any kind. They are always happy to adorn our notes with drawings, stickers and their own belabored signatures. Finally, children’s artwork can easily be recycled into lovely, original stationary. That way, you don’t need to come up with anything original to say—phew!
Call writing and decorating notes with your kids "a fun activity" and your trip to the mailbox "an outing," and in the process give your loved ones that magic moment of feeling the corners of an envelope and studying the trace of your hand.
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