I’ve had the stationery box since I was a teenager. My grandmother often gave gifts of stationery for holidays. Mostly the boxes came and went from my life without notice as I used up the contents. This particular box was large enough that got pressed into service for storage. I collected my various papers and envelopes all into this single box so that I could access them easily. I was a diligent correspondent in those days. I wrote letters to people from other states that I’d met at youth conferences, to friends had gone on trips or moved, and to distant relatives. I got a lot of satisfaction out of putting words to paper and then putting the paper into envelopes. People did not write back so often as I wrote to them, but I figured that letters were gifts that I was giving without expectation of return. That way any letter I did happen to receive was also a gift.
Like most people, I shifted from paper letters to email. The stationery box was shoved into various corners and cupboards, used to store stickers, and used to store the few letters that did trickle to me over the years. Then in the past month I happened to receive a pair of letters. One from a friend and one from a person who sent me a thank you note. These things combined with the blog entry of another friend who is actively encouraging people to send her letters, spurred me to go find my old stationery box. It was a fairly ugly box by this stage of its life. The walls were structurally sound, but the lid a little caved in and stained. I decided to make it pretty again by re-covering it. So that was my small beautification project of the day. The box is made new and ready to collect more letters. Finding stationery to supply it will be a slower process. Stationery sets are not so commonly available as they once were. Also I’m afraid I’ve gotten picky about design.
Fixing up a stationery box was not a particularly productive activity. It did not forward any of my goals for the day. It did not accomplish any of my To Do items. Yet the decoration made me happy. More importantly, it will continue to make me happy for years to come. I made a whimsical post on Facebook and Twitter about how I had made something needlessly beautiful. Several friends wisely answered me that beauty is never needless, it always has value in and of itself. So I am issuing myself a challenge for this week. Each day I will make something beautiful. These will be small projects. Things I can accomplish in 30 minutes or less. Conscious focus on the beauties of my life will be a good thing I think.