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Gemini Full Moon: The Human Touch

letterAlthough I have complicated feelings about the holiday season, I still embrace certain traditions of the Christmas I grew up with. My favorite by far is sending holiday cards, a tradition that has gradually fallen out of favor. And that’s a shame, because these little missives are potentially much more than a way to improve Hallmark’s bottom line: they’re a way to convey the human touch during a season that’s all too often lacking in that kind of thing.

There’s a slow grace to communicating by mail that appeals to me. I dislike the telephone; it has an immediacy that is a bit of an imposition. When I pick up the phone to call someone, I worry that I’m interrupting their only free afternoon in a month, or at the exact moment when they would rather/need to be doing about fifty other things and that they’re just too nice to tell me to shove off. Between the timing thing and the lack of opportunity to formulate soulful insights or snappy responses, the phone is kind of brutal, the freeway approach to communication: direct and expedient, but the likelihood of a sort of telecommunicative multi-car pileup gives one pause.

So from girlhood I was an inveterate letter writer, a child with pen pals in exotic lands, a teenager who could spend hours nosing around a stationery store, whose hands and clothes were covered in ink from leaky ballpoint pens. I waited for letters the way an addict waits for her dealer; I detested holidays because there was no mail delivery. And so it went for years — encyclopedic, soul-baring letters scrawled in longhand on wacky stationery or yellow legal pads. But inevitably technology intervened: I got a computer. And since I type so much faster than I write, and the ability to easily edit my thoughts is irresistible… these days, even on those rare occasions I send “snail mail,” it’s usually typed.

Around the time I was embracing the joys of typography, letter writing finally died a quiet death and people stopped writing back altogether; there followed a couple of bleak years when I had to resort to the telephone or face social destitution. Fortunately, email  saved my social life. Mail can sit there until I’m in a mellow and receptive phase, until I’m sitting with a cup of tea and can offer up my heart in a few well-considered phrases. Email has completely replaced the phone as my day-to-day social conduit. But unfortunately, it’s replaced most of my old-fashioned, pen-to-paper correspondence as well. So holiday cards offer one of my few remaining opportunities to engage in a good, old-fashioned, total-immersion postal ritual. It goes like this.

I buy my cards in January, when I can get really nice quality ones at a decent price; I bring them home, stuff them in a drawer and fish them out after Thanksgiving the next year. (Unless I’ve forgotten I ever bought them, in which case I go out and buy some horribly expensive ones, then get them home and remember the ones I already bought, and stamp my feet and say bad words.) Then, I go the whole nine: build a fire, put Christmas music on the CD player, light candles. And I sit down with my favorite pen and address envelopes, inscribe little notes, affix stamps, sometimes even drag out my box of rubber stamps and decorate the envelopes a little. The next day I bundle them all up and take them to the post office, and they’re on their way: Little hand-hewn pieces of communication, tangible expressions of seasonal cheer for relatives and friends who are too far away for a hug.

The Sun moving through Sagittarius during this bright and sacred season issues the short-term evolutionary imperative to stretch our hearts, expand our horizons and travel to other lands – even if the only travel we can afford is a little piece of our handwriting sent to a loved one far away. During this Full Moon season of Gemini, the sign of Communication, why not send forth seasonal cards and letters as messengers to convey all that our expanded hearts contain – flying along on Mercury’s wings to touch the ones we love, the ones we don’t call often enough, and the ones whose email languishes in our inbox.

© 2005 April Elliott Kent



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