13 January, 2013

Spreading a Little Old-School Sparkle

When I was 4 years old and my Mum was sad, I made her a card every day to show her I was here for her, and somewhere in my 4 year old heart I knew that making Mummy a card was more to her than just receiving a piece of paper with the same questionable flower drawing on it day after day. I knew that what the card represented and what it did for her was so much more.

That same concept has stuck with me throughout my life as a little girl, a teenager and an adult. For all the changes I have been through as a person, I have never stopped making and giving cards to the people I care about. When my friends are going through a tough time, I send them a card full of kind words, compliments and support - whatever might make them feel better or just give them an uplifting surprise. Cards are ever-lasting,  solid, sentimental, meaningful and they have played a significant part in how I support the people I care about.

On the flip-side, recieving cards and letters has also been a blessing at times. When I look back on my best cards, they have always been the ones that I didn't know were coming, no special date or occasion, just someone, somewhere thinking of me and wanting to add to my life. When I went through my first really heart-breaking break-up during university and was facing exams at the same time, one of my bestest friends sent me a parcel of random, fun, lovely things to cheer me up, with a letter inside that meant so much and got me through my week of exams. I have never forgotten that and I have always tried to do the same for others.

What's a shame is, not many people do send old-fashioned style cards and letters anymore. In this newfangled digital age, it is easier to tweet someone happy birthday, to Facebook them a cheer-up message or to send them an e-card with absolutely nothing personal in it whatsoever. Or just to be so busy you don't do anything at all. As much of a social media princess as I might be, I am a very traditional girl at heart and I feel strongly that where some things are concerned, digital communication just cannot replace the meaning and value of old-school traditions. Where kindles may start to replace books (wah!) and Wii Fit may be chosen over a good old run round the park, I stand firm that nothing can replace that feeling of receiving hand-written post through the letter box. No number of little red notifications on your Blackberry can begin to touch on that buzz you get when you run downstairs and in amongst your bank statements and spam mail is a hand-written envelope with who knows what kind of excitement inside. That knowledge that someone has taken the time and thought to write to you is irreplaceable. And that 50p (extortionate!) stamp so many use as an excuse? Most of us would spend that on anything else in a heartbeat.

The content of the thought is important too. I have never understood the notion of spending £3 on a card for someone and then writing 3 words inside that are effectively meaningless.If you are going to give someone a card, then tell them what you are really thinking, what you wish for them, how you see them or how much you appreciate them - writing something unique rather than expected makes the card priceless. Card-giving costs next to nothing but your time, it goes such a long way and it is a form of communication in which you can be really creative. For a friend's recent birthday I wrote 20 things I had loved about her aged 26 - memories, private jokes and compliments. Another friend who had just bought a house received a card from me with a drawing of how I saw her filling her house with her personality - things I admired about her. Sometimes I stick photographs in/on a card of me and the recipient or something else sentimental. The possibilities are endless and sometimes an unprompted thank you or word of appreciation, can really go a long way to making someone feel happy and loved, and doing that for others makes me feel brilliant too.

I want more people to go back to basics and give more cards randomly, when least expected, just because you have thought of someone. I don't just mean Happy Birthdays, Thank-yous and Congratulations - I mean really meaningful cards that you don't HAVE to send. I'm not suggesting we should all throw our blackberries in the nearest puddle and bring back the quill, but we are so lucky that while we can have the snazzy digitalised versions of everything, we can also have the old-fashioned traditions too. We can do BOTH and I wish more people did.

I am currently writing my Christmas Thank-you cards (a little late) which doesn't exactly count as unprompted, but in mid-January when everyone is poor and ill and it hasn't even snowed yet, I hope a little brown envelope on a few doormats is going to spread a little cheer to my near and dear.

My favourite and recent han-made cards - enjoy x

My boyfriend get loads of cards, probably one for every day we've been together poor chap! I think it's important to write old fashioned style notes to show someone what they really mean to you.

My most recent card-making extravaganza was of course Christmas - these were really easy to put together (using Wilko's finest!) but I tried to design each one to fit the personality of the recipient.

This was a postcard I sent my little sister - we don't speak as much since she moved out of my Mum's house and I miss her little sistereqsue presence. This drawing reminds me of her as the little girl here looks like she did when we were younger (she even took her toy elephant everywhere with her when we were little so it's uncanny!) so I sent it to her last year to let her know I miss her.
It was my housemates birthdays a  few months ago and she is a really fun girly girl! She deserved to be spoilt after a rocky time so I made her this (it took me 3 hours!) along with a cake that matched. It could be my all time favourite.
I made a batch of cards spontaneously last summer, when a few of my close family and friends were all having a rough time or had supported me in some way and I wanted to cheer them up/show my thanks. These were a bit scrappy-stylee but that kinda sums me up so they are some of my favourites.
Sometimes I treat myself to shop bought packs of cards when I am sending a lot at one time, when I do I always pay out for pretty ones. I wrote these on a train to Leeds during what was a horrible time for me and it made me feel better doing it.

In 2011 I made the same style of birthday card for each of my friends, with balloons, cakes and then a little figure meant to resemble them on the front. This is my big sister - from when she had red hair! It's not the best card ever but it means a lot.

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