Penmanship Counts (Merry Christmas!)

I began collecting notes back in the fifth grade.  The obsession was born from a deep-seeded desire to be noticed.  I’m sure a trained psychologist would diagnose it as an acute case of narcissism which presents as numerous symptoms.

  • Loud, girly laugh. 
  • Blathering storytelling at gatherings involving four or more people. 
  • Blog posts exceeding 1500 words.

Warning:  There is no cure.  There’s a team of doctors in Switzerland working on a remedy, but they can’t get the control group to shut up long enough to get ‘em to pop a placebo.

The notes I collected are probably tucked away in a box somewhere in my attic.  I’m not exactly sure.  But I don’t need to find them, because I have vivid memories of them.  Many of them folded with care in intricate shapes, much like the pegged jeans of my 80’s upbringing.  Call it suburban origami.

My favorite notes were the ones I would receive from girls.  I still marvel how anyone ever had interest in me, as my head encompassed half of my body weight.  My silhouette was that of a rubber mallet. 

Reading every note was like panning for gold.  Inevitably, the object of my affection du jour would ramble on and on about the trivialities of the day.  Mounds and mounds of silt.

     “Mr. Myers farted in gym class again.  Some of us laughed, some of us gagged.”

     “I had nachos and a chocolate milkshake for lunch.  Was totally bummed that they were out of Nutty Bars.”

     “Mrs. Henley smells like a blend of freeze-dried Folger’s crystals and Virginia Slims.”

But sometimes, I would find a gold nugget that would bring a smile to my face.

     “I like your spike hairdo.  It’s awesome.”

     “Are you going to Brad’s party?  I hope so!”

     “You’re cute.”

But it wasn’t just the words that meant something.  It was how they were written.  If Christi dotted her “i” with a heart, I knew it was special.  And, anything written in a glitter pen meant that first base was on my horizon. 

If not matrimony.

So, as a force of habit, I panned for gold when I received a note a few weeks ago.  As a happily married man, I no longer look for signs of an impending wedding or a confirmed acceptance of a Sock Hop invitation. But I still look for the meaning behind the message.

The email was from a woman I met while working in Saudi Arabia.  Meshael had given my family a wonderful gift.  A total surprise, as I wondered if it was even appropriate for me to have a one-on-one conversation with her, since she was a conservative, burka-clad, married Muslim woman. 

I had written her a note to say thank you for her generosity.  And, to keep the thank-you chain alive, she responded in kind.


Now, I’m not a militant against the term “Happy Holidays.”  And writing the word “X-Mas” does not punch your one-way ticket to H-E-double-hockey-sticks. But I am sensitive to the fact that Christmas has become so commercial that we sometimes forget that the whole reason for the celebration is to remind us how  Jesus came to Earth to be with us as a baby boy.  Showing us peace, love, and compassion.

So, I was blown away to receive this note from a woman of another faith.  A woman who some might say was put on the planet to threaten Christianity itself.  Her photo alone would strike fear in the hearts of some of us.  But it’s not just her words.  It’s the care she took in crafting them.  A virtual glitter pen and heart-dotted “i.” 

A golden nugget to show me that, in a world divided, there are people who understand the value of bringing us all together, no matter the season.  No matter the religion.

So, to those near and far, here’s hoping you have a beautiful, multi-hued Holiday, and a very Merry Christmas.