The Lost Art of…

by Ilinap on November 27, 2011


I can’t help but continue on my “Get off my lawn“! mode. I suppose the nostalgia of the holidays and fleeting moments of Bird and Deal believing in Santa Claus have got my bloomers in a bundle. To balance the over indulgence of the holidays that focus more on getting than gratitude, I ordered some personalized stationery for the boys (from Tiny Prints, natch). That got me thinking about thank you notes in general. And that got me thinking about handwriting and letter writing and all the things that are a lost art.

The Lost Art of…

Thank you notes – I’ve received thank you notes via email, text message, and even on my Facebook wall. To this I say HARUMPH. And then again, there have been the times that I got no thank you note at all. When this happens in a professional capacity, there is no excuse at all.

Handwriting – I can appreciate nice handwriting and love that Bird has been writing his name in cursive. He recently drew a bunch of pictures, and his 8-year old signature in the corner makes my heart swell. The posterity of a hand written journal is priceless. I have a hunch Bird and Deal will value the hand written journals I have kept for them more than what I opine on this little blog. Plus, we all rush to open the rare hand addressed envelope, right?

Listening – I recall my Latin teacher from tenth grade talking to us about listening. As we were shuffling into our wooden desks someone had mentioned a movie she saw over the weekend. Before she finished her sentence someone else piped in with what she did over the weekend. And so on and so on and so on. Our teacher sighed, crossed his legs so his argyle socks were visible, and looked up at the ceiling with a smirk upon his face. He remarked that we girls were so busy chiming in with our own stories that not one single person even asked if our classmate liked the movie, a natural response in a conversation had we been listening. Next time you’re in a group, pay attention to conversation dynamics, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Cooking – Oh dear, there’s so much to say here that it could fill a tome.  If more people were busy Occupying their Kitchens the world would be a better place. The only arrests would be the people busting down doors to get to Jennie’s tomato jam and Gina’s killer mac and cheese. There is something cathartic and rewarding and happiness making about cooking and sharing a meal with those we cherish. Take out and the drive through lane are overrated.

Dressing your age – As more and more grey peeks through my chin length bob I become acutely aware of reconciling the woman I’ve become with the girl I was. There’s no need for moms and their teenage daughters to vie for the same clothes. I’m in my forties and can rock a trend to be stylish in a manner that suits my age, my personality, and my responsibility. I won’t get much respect with the Chief Marketing Officer if I don capri leggings and a fur vest, but I sure as hell can rock a fur trimmed cardigan coat with boots and jeans when it’s time to play. The opposite holds true too; don’t prematurely age yourself and dress like a frump. Say no to denim overalls, a romper, or a wind suit.

Dressing up – Every time I watch Pan Am I pine for the days when people dressed nicely to travel. I don’t think being stylish and comfortable are mutually exclusive. Casual Friday has ruined workplace attire. Wind suits have ruined travel attire. As for the people who wear pajama pants in public, I say go back to bed. There’s something about looking tidy and put together that makes your posture improve and your confidence soar. 

Building a fire – I have scattered happy memories of my childhood but I do distinctly remember helping my dad twist the newspaper to tuck it amongst the kindling to start a fire (kindling that he sent us out in the yard to gather, no less). This was a family job and one of the few things I recall us doing together. As small as it seems, it burned a memory into my brain. The fire would pop and crackle as we oohed and aahed in awe. How many people can still set up a proper fire and make it sizzle rather than fizzle on the first go? Nowadays people flick the remote and watch gas logs laid ever so realistically atop each other flame up with no crackle or telltale smell to waft through the house. Guilty as charged. Ahem.

Manners – Oh, bad manners abound, but a display of good manners leaves people oohing and aahing as if someone just built a fire. People of all ages are just downright rude, entitled, and self-possessed. Narcissus plus Ed Debevic made a rotten combination. Something about the holiday season really makes the bad manners take center stage. A little thank you and please take you a long way. And a smile. Don’t forget the smile (an earnest one, not an ingratiating one).

Napping – I have two very destructive active little boys. Need I say more?

So what am I missing? What do you think is a lost art?





{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Hines-Sight Blog November 27, 2011 at 9:24 PM

Great post. Speaking of, I’ve got to write some notes right now. Used to be more prompt that I am now.


Jennifer @ Orange Polka Dot November 28, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Well said Ilina! I totally agree with you on all of it! I love to write thank you notes on “real” stationary. Although, I have found myself doing it less and less, and sending emails – agh. Not because of convenience, but because I am paranoid that if I don’t send a thank you email that night or the next day, the person will think I am rude. In this day of instant communication, I fear that in the time it takes my handwritten note to arrive, the person will think I forgot to say thanks (and here in the Spain the post isn’t so efficient, so you can never be certain it arrived anyway!).


Julie November 28, 2011 at 1:17 PM

I’m with you on these except thank-you notes. I gratefully accept mixed-media thanks — sometimes from the same event. So many acceptable reasons to do either/or. I do value the handwritten note, but I appreciate positive sentiment regardless of its delivery method!

I’d add:

Ceremony — we no longer value the importance of ceremony and too hastily threw it out for “casual” without realizing how important ritual can be to major life events, and even minor ones. It’s a process, and a contemplation.


Ilinap November 29, 2011 at 11:48 AM

I agree that it’s important to maintain the sentiment of a thank you note, and the delivery can take many forms. But for things like birthday gifts and whatnots, I believe in a handwritten note. As for ceremony, I’m right there with you!


magpie November 28, 2011 at 4:29 PM

I use the line “let’s rediscover the lost art of conversation” an awful lot. 🙂


Ilinap November 29, 2011 at 11:47 AM

This is so true, especially when you see a group of people glued to their phones!


Grumble Girl November 29, 2011 at 12:24 PM

I love a handwritten note, and I have a drawer full of beautiful stationary… I need more stamps though. And I am sooooooo with you on the casualness of everyday wear – I wish people would stop wearing ball caps and sneakers/teva sandals to the theatre or to dine out. It’s just gross. I always dress up (even a little) to travel. And I find people treat you better, and more efficiently too.

Your whole list was bang-on. And napping is my favourite… 😉


Coltin December 12, 2011 at 7:59 AM

Thanks for starting the ball rollnig with this insight.


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