Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hey, Sweet Kid, you got a hand-written LETTER in the MAIL!

"She's getting confirmed," he told me.  "Would you write her a letter?"

I don't see my niece nearly as often as I would like.  She lives many states away. But still, I love her to pieces. Of course, I would write to her.

It took too long to get the letter off - I wanted it to reflect that I'd read and thought over what she wrote about taking this step in her life.  But once it was complete, I mailed it to her - in an envelope with a stamp - then emailed the gist of it to my brother.  Divorce has them living apart.

He replied with his thanks and his thoughts and this ....
"She'll read it .... and remember it .... and treasure it in the years to come.  That means thousands more to her (and to me) than a card with a $10 check in it that says ....
'Congratulations on your confirmation'."

Then he challenged me to "wonder" about letter writing on my blog someday.

He and I both know, I think, why we value hand-written letters.  Our mother writes them often.  We have never received a birthday card that simply holds a check and, under the Hallmark greeting,  "Best Wishes, Love Mom".  She always writes about her life and asks specifically about yours, occasionally adding a joke.  She used to tuck notes inside my suitcase each time I left for college.  One time going so far as to stuff in a pair of warm boots I was leaving behind but she worried I'd need (and obviously insisted I bring). Inside one boot was a cheerful note that ended with her favorite line .... "Never say No to your Mama!"

 I am relishing my walks and talks with a friend who lost her mother this spring.  As she and her siblings sort through belongings in the family home, they are savoring the letters kept and stored that share anecdotes about their growing up days, that underscore the love between their parents and their families, that fill in holes, that bring solace.  And, it seems, it is these letters written on paper, sent in envelopes, that are more valuable than the antique furniture and the house full of collected treasures.

In this age of texting and emails, in this day of going paper-less, I wonder how we will capture the feel and touch and even smell of a hand-written letter.  And I wonder what our children and grandchildren are receiving or seeing modeled in the way of hand-written letters.  Child therapist, Brenna Hicks, leads a Child-Parent Relationship Training in which parents are assigned to write three letters to their children in three weeks. She touts the values of both encouraging your children to write letters and writing letters to them.

Yeah, yeah, letter writing takes time. But just think how totally focused you are on that person you are writing to while penning that letter.  Somehow, that love and energy must travel to them with the letter, don't you think?

Each year on their birthdays, I give my grandchildren a letter I have written about the past year of their lives - the fun memories, the sillies, the things they said, did and learned, my thoughts and feelings about them. They are not crazy about this gift now, but I am hopeful that one day they will look back and read the lot and enjoy them.  And, if it goes out with the wrapping, I have saved and backed-up an electronic copy - a very nice bennie of this day and age!

I wish I had written a letter to each of my children on their birthdays through the years. Retirement and grand-parenting bring new perspectives.... and a great deal more time.

I wonder about the day my children will sort through the belongings in our home.  Will they choose to download the contents of the discs and thumb-drives they find in the cupboards and drawers?  Will blogs be my generation's box of hand-written letters?  hmmmm.....

If all the mailbox is going to hold is junk mail, you might as well have fun fetching it!

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