There is an art to letter writing that has been lost over time. It has given way to the massively impersonal emails and text messages that have been rolled in by the electronic age and wiped out the last vestiges of real letter writing that was enjoyed by previous generations.
Not so many years ago, your granny would have really appreciated a letter from a friend or relative. There was a whole aura about a surprise letter arriving on your doorstep. It was proof positive that somebody cared enough to spend time and money communicating with you, asking after you, telling you of all the trivia that was going on in their lives at the time.
Personal letters were kept for years, brought out on regular weepy occasions to be re-read, re-folded and stacked away neatly. There was the feel and smell of the paper, the unmistakeable hand writing of a loved one and the particular smell that accompanied each letter.
We progressed from that to the harsher generation of kids that thought the letter was a money receptacle and after shaking it to see what it contained, discarded it without feeling.
And what do we have today? A whole new concept of communication that defies your granny and often even your dad, it has evolved so quickly. Letters, of course, still arrive. They are printed on paper that leaves you with snow blindness by an ink cartridge that smudges when it feels like it from a computer that churns out uniform script.
How can anyone that has ever used a pen, and I mean a real, proper pen, be satisfied with the products of an ink cartridge? There is a whole process to the setting up of ink pot and blotting paper and the unscrewing of your pen top to refill from your pot of 'Quink'. This, again, is accompanied by certain smells and a certain feel that cannot possibly be replicated by the use of an ink cartridge.
More often than not communication is done via email these days. This has the knock on effect of saving the environment by the non-use of paper and ink cartridge unless you're one of these sad people that like to print out and keep every email correspondence that comes your way. It can also be a little bit dodgy. With one click of a button you could land yourself neck deep in the brown sticky stuff by sending an email to the wrong recipient. This would never happen with an ordinary, hand written letter.
And then we have good old text messaging done from modern cell phones. Another great saver when it comes to ink cartridges and paper but another risky communications business. I have myself been responsible for text messages going to the wrong person and this can cause untold damage within relationships but is a true insight about what people think of you when it happens to you in reverse.
These messages will never contain the information that your granny so appreciates because there simply isn't enough room. Put terms like 'lol', 'btw' or 'fyi' in a letter to her and she will think you are talking a different language. In fact, you could well be! 'Nerdic' is a new language fast evolving for the computer generation and those that don't understand it are getting left far behind.
The best thing you can do for your granny this Christmas is put down your phone, step away from the ink cartridge and sit down with pen and paper and write her a heartfelt letter using full words in your own handwriting. I can guarantee she will treasure this gift dearly.
Communications expert Catherine Harvey looks at the use of ink cartridges instead of pens.