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Today is National Handwriting Day— a day when those of us who ride the bandwagon of cursive writing have an excuse to bang the drum loudly. I offer in evidence exhibit #1—the handwritten note.

Obviously you can pen a handwritten note no matter what your handwriting looks like, but if it looks like chicken scratch, the missive tends to lose some of its charm.

Handwriting is not like blue eyes; it’s a skill, not a given, and it’s never too late to learn to control your handwriting— to develop a consistent, systematic hand. It’s much easier, of course if you learn a system of joining letters as a child, and that’s why I support the teaching of cursive writing in the elementary grades.

Once you learn the system, your handwriting develops a unique personal style that is a recognizable part of your personality.

Which brings me to the handwritten note. The recipient holds your hand in her hand and is drawn close to you in a way that does not happen with typewritten text.

If I receive something handwritten—and today that is rare— I save it. The earliest note in my collection was written by Herb’s grandmother the day after we were married. We will celebrate that day next week (our 63rd!)  and in anticipation of the event I dug out Gram’s note.

Jan 30 – 55

Dear Children

Your wedding was beautiful something for you to remember for years.

The reception also was a success. Now all you have to do is live happily ever afterward.

Lots of Love and good wishes with your first mail as Mr. & Mrs.

Love GRAM

This is the first time I have ever typed the contents of this note. Even though I knew reading the typewritten text would be a completely different experience from reading Gram’s handwriting, I am astonished at just how different the experience is. The note provides an almost magical connection. I feel her presence and remember her so clearly. The typewritten text could have been written by anybody.

Gram did not have the benefit of a high school education, but she learned to read and write and developed a graceful legible hand that brings her back to us after all these years.

Her message has a sad poignancy about it, for she herself did not “live happily ever afterwards.” She had eloped with a street car conductor who turned out to be an alcoholic and eventually left her and Herb’s mom. You will be able to learn more about her in Herb’s forthcoming memoir: Hunting for the Plot: A Son’s Search for His Family’s Untold Stories.

Meanwhile, if you want help with your handwriting, this is the book to buy.