The world of communications is changing so rapidly there is almost no time to reflect on what we have lost. Every day the items and processes that people relied upon for centuries have achieved artifact status in a mere decade or two. Take letter writing, for example. Historians and biographers have depended on letters as primary source material for their works. Songs like “Please Mr. Postman’, Joe Cocker’s “The Letter” or “Sealed with a Kiss” showed us how letters served the cause of romance for generations. Years ago, children were encouraged to have pen pals all over the world, not only to improve their writing skills but to promote cross-cultural understanding. On the flip side, society was perennially plagued by insidious chain letters, threatening doom and bankruptcy to those daring enough to break the chain.
Honestly, when was the last time you sat down to write a letter by hand? Or, for that matter, can you remember the last time you received one from a friend or relative? Yes, we realize that you are still getting lots of mail at home, even if it is not welcome. There are still bills, charitable solicitations, holiday cards, ad mail and the occasional post card from a friend on a trip that typically arrives weeks after the sender has returned. By today’s standards letter writing is often a complex and arduous task involving multiple steps. You have to find a pen, compose, look up the address and postal code, locate a stamp, put it in an envelope, remember to take it with you when you leave the house and finally, get it to a mailbox. Compare all this to breaking your personal news to cast of hundreds on Facebook with the touch of a finger.
This brings us to today’s CRUD (completely ridiculous useless debris) topic: stationery. Stationery is one of those homonyms often confused with its counterpart- the word stationary.
Stationary is an adjective that means not moving or intended to be moved. The stationery we refer to includes boxes of writing paper and envelopes, note cards and the like. This stationery is designed for consumption, to be used up over time over the course of written exchanges. Yet, like other household CRUD rife with good intentions, its purpose goes unrealized. Boxes of personalized stationery and cards remain imprisoned in their decorative boxes wedged into the backs of desk drawers or closet shelves, until you are moving or just had a flood.
If you are holding on to reams of unused stationery either because you are hoping to catch up on your correspondence when you retire or expecting a major power failure that will render your computer useless for several months, you need to re-jig your thinking. If you are planning on keep some cards and paper around, make them in visible. That way you are more likely to use some of the backlog when the occasion arises. A certain proportion of those blank sheets are going to have to go. How will you decide? Think about discarding (no pun intended) personalized stationery embossed with your former monogram (if you are divorced), or former addresses (how many times have you moved). Do you have any pads of that ultra-thin airmail stationery with the red and blue bordered envelopes designed to save on postage? Then sort your collection of blank cards by occasion. Donate extras. Church and religious groups are good candidates for the giveaways as they still make extensive use of cards as thank-you notes and such. There is one more category worthy of purging. While you are sorting, you will come across cards without envelopes and vice-versa. Like food containers minus matching lids, we recommend recycling.