December 4, 2011

Continue traditions, both Christmas and cursive


---- — The Christmas tree is up, and during the recent warm spell I put colored lights around the front porch as well as an adjacent evergreen tree. That's a milestone for me. I usually wait till it's far below freezing, probably because I just like to hear my wife, Kaye, saying, "Why didn't you do that while it was 50 degrees out there?" My late mother had a word that best described her prodigal youngest son who was a consistent procrastinator: "putoffsky." My philosophy was to never do today what you can delay till tomorrow.

Our tree is far smaller than those of past years. We decided we didn't want to chance climbing on ladders to put the angel in place. No, we're not as pleased, but we have no children at home these days, so our decorations can be a bit more modest.

I need to follow up on my last column. Not since my piece on button boxes years ago have I received such vociferous reaction. What I called the gradual demise of cursive writing brought readers out of the woodwork. The comments flowed in from every quarter, and the opinions were most interesting.

The consensus seems to be that the process is inevitable. I learned that very few people anywhere use cursive for writing anything anymore — even their grocery lists. I guess Kaye and I are oddballs in that respect. I make notes every day in cursive. All my sticky notes are in cursive. All the handwritten reminders in my desk calendar and appointment book are cursive.

Kaye also writes on the calendar in her neat cursive style, and when either of us sends greeting cards, the messages are always cursive. We haven't started our Christmas cards yet, but with our huge family there are plenty of greetings sent throughout the year. All are cursive.

When I address an envelope, I find myself printing for the most part. I'm not sure why, but perhaps it's a concession to the post office. Because of my obsession with learning how to write clearly as a child, I have found that cursive flows easier off my pencil or pen. Printing looks nice but takes a lot longer.

I received a note from a woman who apparently teaches people to write in some kind of combination printing wherein the letters are connected.

Most of the responses came to me from older readers who either learned cursive starting in kindergarten or in later grades. Many admitted that they only rarely use cursive these days. It dawns on me that my older brother Jim writes all his letters to me with a printing style. He has kept handwritten journals all his life, and they are all printed. Kaye says she never prints because she can't do it legibly. I'd like to thank all those who took time to respond by sending personal notes written in their own cursive manner and sent in the snail mail.

We're well into the holiday season, and the traditions of Christmas, both religious and secular, are clung to by most of us. Many still cut their own Christmas trees and decorate their houses. Thank goodness Santa Claus still holds the same mystery and charm as always. Letters to Santa are still read on the radio every year. We still enjoy the traditional Christmas carols and other songs of the season. Have you noticed that many of your favorite holiday songs were written decades ago? Most of the popular Christmas classics were penned in the '40s and '50s.

Let's hold onto those traditions. Let's sing the old Christmas songs. Let's continue to write nice cursive notes on our Christmas cards to family and friends. I can't urge teachers to use cursive on their blackboards. You know why? When is the last time you visited a classroom? They don't have blackboards anymore.

My suggestions? At least teach your young ones to read cursive even if they can't write with it. Also, don't let the old Christmas songs and traditions die at your house.

Have a great day and please, drive carefully.

Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the "Our Little Corner" television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at