"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wait a Minute Mr. Postman

I miss letters. There's nothing like getting a card, note or letter written especially for you from someone you care about.  Today I was looking at some scrapbooks I kept during high school.  They're not the fancy kind of scrapbooks that are popular now with patterned paper and die-cut embellishments.  Everything in them is glued directly to the pages and would be ruined if I tried to remove them. The papers and mementos are already getting yellowed.  But none of that bothers me.  I'm just glad I saved almost all the written correspondence I received during that period of my life.  Whether they're quick notes just saying thank you or that someone was thinking of me, a brief postcard from someone on vacation, or a long, detailed letter, I treasure them all.  Reading them reminds me of things that were important to the teenage me.  

Letters from my cousin Michelle in Colorado still make me laugh out loud.  Even the way she addressed her envelopes was funny and always had me smiling before I'd even opened her notes to me.  My Grandpa French was a dedicated letter writer and corresponded regularly with many family members and friends.  Reading his letters today made me miss him in a way I hadn't for years.  I was struck by his sincere interest in what was going on in my life and the simple way he'd ask me questions so that I'd write him back.  Back then I loved hearing from him, but now I'm almost tearful with gratitude that I have such tangible remnants and reminders of our relationship.   

Nowadays it seems hardly anyone writes and mails letters anymore, including me.  We text, email, and instant message. The communication and gratification is instant, but the history of the communication is almost as instantly gone, and that makes me sad.  In my scrapbooks are notes and letters from my high-school sweetheart who became my first husband and my summertime boyfriend in Colorado.  They're such sweet reminders of our courtship and the early days of our relationship.  Mike and I communicate almost constantly via text, but I'll never have our texts and instant messages to look back on and be reminded of the thousands of small memories and moments from our early days of dating.  Luckily, I do at least have this, a screen capture of Mike's Facebook status the morning after our first date.  

I've kept a newspaper clipping written by George Will in 1999 addressed to his daughter upon her high school graduation.  It's a wistful piece written by a father realizing how fast his little girl has grown up and how much of her life will now happen away from him.  Here are the last paragraphs of his column:

"There is in life a lot of taking leave, of letting go.  But to assuage our pain, when you are at college, studying what college students study, from the causes of wars to the cures for hangovers, write us letters.  You look puzzled. Ah: You do not know what letters are.  The description will astonish you.  

Once upon a time, before cell phones and e-mail, primitive people who wished to communicate with people far away produced-by hand, no less-artifacts called letters that recipients could hold in their hands, and cherish, as we, your parents, have held and cherished you.  We will bind your letters with red ribbons like those with which we adorned you, just a few flown years ago."

Ah, yes, letters-how I miss them.  

Envelopes with letters from my cousin and my summer boyfriend
A note from high school days between me and my dear friend Todd Cisowski.
A note from my Grandma after my engagement. 
Letters from my mom were usually handwritten in her beautiful writing.
A note from a next-door neighbor from my childhood and a letter from Grandpa French
Another letter from my former neighbor.  She had such pretty cursive.  
Dad's writing was always harder to read than mom's. 
A letter from my dad while he was in Denmark

Living apart from my siblings meant we stayed connected with letters.


  1. I loved these letters and envelopes. Seeing the handwriting of dear ones who are now gone is really bittersweet. Thanks for sharing these.

  2. How sweet. I have a drawer filled with old letters and mementos from the past. I still receive cards now and then and I place them in the drawer. But I don't receive letters any more, which you just reminded me. I have a letter from my dad, long gone now, but his writing is very much like he was. Thanks for this trip down your Memory Lane.


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