Now that most of my friends are at university and spread across the country, wishing someone a happy birthday is a bit more difficult. A quick message on facebook is nice but it takes about 5 seconds and facebook even reminds you when people’s birthdays are, so I’m not going to pretend that an awful lot of thought is put into the message. A text is marginally better but what I know I’d always prefer to receive is a card. Not an electronic version but a real paper version that I can slide from its envelope and admire it’s cover before opening to reveal what someone has written inside.
Writing a card is so much more personal than anything else other than actually being there in person. Especially when we have such technology at our fingertips to send messages instantly, it makes it more special to receive a card because you know that that person dedicated some time to sending it to you. They first had to pick out a card, choosing one just for you (personally I could spend a lot of time perusing the selection of several shops before finding the right one), they then wrote the card in their own handwriting (again investing a good chunk of time composing their message and putting pen to paper) followed by finding out your address and buying a stamp before dropping it in a post box that they specifically visited to post your card. I’ve just outlined why people don’t send cards much anymore. That certainly took more effort than a quick text or email didn’t it?
Yet all this shows that someone was thinking about you and they wanted to show you that they care. Their personal message written in their own hand, which is so much more intimate than the uniform rigidity of Times New Roman font (even if a little illegible), means a lot more than the words on a screen.
It’s always a nice surprise to receive a card in the post too as it’s become something of a rarity. But that’s the hard bit when you’re sending a card: making it a surprise. I recently sent a birthday card to my friend but the surprise is kind of ruined when I have to ask for her address a few days in advance. It made me realise how much we rely on phones and facebook for keeping in touch; it would never occur to me to ask for my friends’ addresses even though they are currently living in different places all over the country. Facebook is great and I’m not sure I could do without it for keeping in touch with friends from back home but next year, when we all move from halls to rented houses and flats in second year, I’m going to make sure I make a note of their new addresses.