Main Player at ‘Downton Abbey’ No Longer Main Player Today

As the final episode of Season 4 “Downton Abbey” will air on PBS Sunday, Feb. 23, my four-week obsession with this television show will be on hiatus. That is, until Season 5 begins!

A month ago, I watched the first episode of “Downton Abbey” and couldn't stop, completely drawn into the lives of the Crawley family and their servants in the early 1900s in England. I would binge two, three or more episodes in a row, killing off nearly four seasons in the same number of weeks.

The absorbing drama has reminded me of times past. Of the way things used to be, even not so long ago, and how things shall never be the same.

At Downton, the “post” is delivered every morning and afternoon, bringing with it news of business, family, tragedy, celebration, loss and love. The “post” can influence an entire family with a single swipe of a letter opener.

A time when news still comes by way of newspaper. When invitations are still issued on paper. When congratulations are written long hand. When condolences are stained by fallen, splattered tears. When every sense springs alive – the feel of the paper, the sound of the delivery, the sight of the handwriting, the smell of the ink, the taste of anticipation.

I miss rushing to the mailbox to discover a treasure.

No matter how poignant, you can’t clutch an email or text or Tweet to your chest. Can’t crumple it in your fist. Can’t shoot it into a trashcan. Can’t savor it by pressing it into a book.

These days are gone. Maybe that’s why millions find “Downton Abbey” so gripping, so appealing. Maybe we’re all a bit enamored with a time gone by.

Nicole van Esselstyn realizes the irony in using a blog to convey her feelings about the lost art of handwritten correspondence. To make it less ironic, she shared some of her thoughts in her own handwriting. She won’t reveal how many “takes” that took.