Fewer and fewer written communications these days, I notice, begin with the formal salutation, “Dear . . . .”
Perhaps because that word now sounds quaint or prissy or too intimate or formal, “Dear” is clearly on the wane.
Nowadays, “Hi” or “Hey” are breezier ways to open an email or a rare posted letter (most likely a greeting card).
But I’m determined, fuddy-duddily perhaps, to stick with “Dear” because I hear respect in it, as in the even more archaic greeting, “Esteemed colleagues, . . . .”
“Dear” implies more than sentimental endearment; it signifies value, as in “Worthy friends.” “Dear” means rare and precious but, even more, it confers dignity upon the addressee, and I, for one, support the prospect of living in a dignitarian society—Dear me, Dear you.