Real paper, to touch and feel and love


This week’s loose-leaf feature is Paper.  (I’m recapping October’s theme.)

Despite the fact that so much has gone digital in our global world, paper is not dead.

Paper books, paper journals, paper calendars. You name it. They’re not going away. In fact, a case could be made that the quality of these paper products has risen because people won’t bother with them unless they’re really great. And after some time of intentional shifts away from so many of the common uses for paper, I think there is something to be said about the average American consumer missing it.

rose on pages horizontal

(for a hilarious 30 second video expressing just how important paper still is, click here)

What we are highlighting here this week is that a physical thing – a piece of paper, a journal, a letter, a book – shows care. It says, I care about this information. I care about the person to whom I’m writing this. Or I care so much about the experience of reading this, I’m going to give up space on a shelf in my home so I can remember it and even do it again some time.

selective focus photography of brown wooden book shelf
Photo by Engin Akyurt on

The song “I Could Write a Book” is an expression of doing something tangible and meaningful to show just how much you care.

Here’s the basic backdrop: a guy likes a girl and flatters her with claims to knowing her enough to write a book about her – even though he’s a little dim and not really the bookish type. The way he sets up the song, in the intro (which is rarely included in recordings), the character Joey explains that he doesn’t see himself as a scholar, much less an author. Yet, he claims he has good enough reason to become just that. And not just reason – he has the content. He sees her (how she walks, whispers, looks) he values her (wants the world to remember her) and wants to be with her (make two lovers of friends).

She reciprocates with similar sentiments and they eventually (*spoiler alert*) end up together.


Within the first year of our marriage, I recall a friend, who was nearing divorce at the time, iterate to me the importance of tangible expressions – cards, letters, real things to communicate and mark the value of the person and the relationship. We haven’t been fabulous at this, but we try.

For our first Christmas, I printed our vows and framed them, along with a picture of our wedding. 

Keeping it real with the pile of laundry. At least it’s folded.

On one of our early wedding anniversaries, Nathan surprised me with one of his trademark super sentimental gifts. He had printed out and bound all of the emails that we had exchanged when we were dating and engaged. We could have looked at them any time on the computer. Why bother finding them, printing them, running to the shop to get the bound?


Here it is.  See – he wrote a book.

Making a physical record of our communications, pulling them out of the digi-sphere, was him saying to me “I care about these words we shared. I love the journey they’ve brought us through. I care about you. You are important. We’re a team.”

close up photo of book pages
Photo by Ravi Kant on

Ultimately, our job here on earth is to show that we care about the people in our life. Papers – full of scribbles, colored with paints, or beautifully scribed with sonnets – can do just that.

What can you do, with paper, today, to tangibly show that you see and care about someone? How can you say, “I see you, You are valuable, and I am here for you.”

Here’s an idea….Send some holiday ambiance, in the form of a real CD, in a real case, inserted with real paper liner notes, and, if you desire, even wrapped in real nice wrapping paper 🙂  A Three Tenors Christmas CD is yours (or theirs) if you’d like. [click: A Three Tenors Christmas CD]

Much Love to you from the Birds,


Read lyrics of “I Could Write a Book”

Listen to Nathan and Naomi’s recording of “I Could Write a Book”

Song: “I Could Write a Book” from the 1940 Broadway musical Pal Joey
Authors and Dates: Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Lorenz Hart (1895-1943)

SOURCES and links for the curious…

About the Song

Read the lyrics

About the composers Rodgers and Hart

About the musical Pal Joey (starring Gene Kelly)

About the 1957 film Pal Joey (starring Frank Sinatra)

A great PDF with 10 reasons why print isn’t dead

Funny YouTube clip

Listen to Nathan and Naomi’s recording