The art of letters

As with most things in my life, I go through phases when it comes to writing Christmas letters. This year, I'm back on the horse, inspired by some beautiful cards I found at a shop in Hoboken, where three separate sales clerks asked me in a span of 75 seconds whether I needed any help (the answer all three times was no). I've spent the past few days choosing my list, choosing which card goes to whom, choosing my words. Choosing, at its most basic, whether I wanted to be sentimental or not; whether this was a time for saying I love you, I miss you, thanks for a great year, my life is complete because of you. I bought a silver pen, thick and fluid, which looks amazing against the red envelopes but a bit dim on the white ones. I am sorry to those of you for whom I chose the white cards over the red. You are missing out on some gorgeous ink.

There is something about writing things down on paper that feels more risky than it used to. Several times I started a message and then went to erase it before forgetting I couldn't. I am so used to writing on screens and deleting at will and never needing to commit to my words until I'm ready to hit the Send button that I froze; the meanings I meant to convey may have gotten muddled as a result. But the cards are stamped and sealed, and I don't even remember what I said in them, and there's now no way for me to check.

How did we all used to survive like this?

As I was scribbling them the other night, I told B. I wished I had been a Victorian lady so I could write letters all day, just spinning exhortations about missing friends and lovely years and taking turns around the garden, which I would surely have if I were a Victorian lady. After a beat, he burst into laughter and told me that was the most untrue statement I've ever made.

I think it was a compliment.

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