Smile Before You Open, Remember?


Grabbed from Pinterest.

In the 1800s, long before long distance telephone services were readily available or affordable, telegrams were the best way to convey information in a hurry. It created magic during a time when talk was not cheap, literally. Centuries later, it evolved into impressive tools of communication we have today. But where has the magic gone?

On one of my room clean-ups, I had the opportunity to open the bottommost drawer of my desk where I found an ever vintage shoebox. My heart jumped with excitement because I knew I was about to trek memory lane.

Treasure box, that’s what I call it. From my second grade school ID to the ID sling from the last company I worked at; from the plane boarding pass of my very first trip alone to the island postcard from the summer getaway I had with my best friend; from the script of the Shakespeare play I once directed to the movie pass of the culmination of the Harry Potter series; from the tiny pink candles from my birthday two years ago to the Hallmark birthday card I got two moths ago, this box evidently contained mementos of the many chapters in a woman’s life. Every piece captured moments with loved ones that I just didn’t want to risk forgetting about. What stunned me the most though were the letters and cards that I received throughout these moments.

“Smile before you open”, most of the envelopes said. The two-inch thick bundle of papers cut into different sizes and appearing in different textures is a testimonial of a time gone by.

I’m too young for nostalgia, but I just couldn’t help but miss the time when communication was simply, well, sweeter.

When did showing affection stop being personal and start becoming a reflection of how busy a person is? Of course we know the answer: since the age of texts and emails and social networking.

There’s nothing wrong with this utterly helpful advanced technology, but wouldn’t it be nice to just go back to a time when a guy would slip handwritten letters on your notebook instead of just sending you a “WUD?” text to suggest he’s interested? Or to a time when you would receive postcards from friends continents away? Remember the years when poems were written in intermediate pads whose edges were burnt to a dramatic shade of brown? Or when Valentine cards were handmade and had hearts and cupid arrows all over them? How heartwarming would it be to receive letters – in scented stationery – that begin with “Dear” and end with “Love”? Or to once again be given bookmarks that have friendship and life quotes in them?

Expressions of love and friendship have indeed evolved as much as our lifestyles had. And the era of hardcopies might soon go extinct. But you can always make a vow that until then – and as long as time and society permit – you shall be documenting memories the old school way, even if it means emptying another drawer—because a 1998 letter isn’t such a bad device for blackmailing an old friend or a once “secret admirer”. ♥

* This article first appeared in The Philippine Star.



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