What’s on the Books for the Weekend: Letter Writing

by Christine

I am a words person. I even have favorite words such as arugula and bok choy. They are fun words; speaking them into existence always feels like a party. For the most part I prefer communicating important or emotional ideas through the written word instead of the spoken word. It gives me time to think through what I want to communicate without all the emotion of body language cluttering up the message. I relied on this tool throughout the highly emotional times of the last 6 months of my mother’s life.

As I have been working on the Somers Family History photo project, I have also come across letters and other documents covering the lives of multiple generations of my family. My mother was a bit of a pack rat and unorganized pack rat at that. I found my grandmothers marriage license in an old suit case stuffed with old photos, loose change, clothes, old newspaper clippings and other sorted odds and ends- a junk drawer in a suitcase.

But the letters, particularly between my grandmother and her sisters have been the most revealing and poignant. My grandmother and great aunts lived in a time before cell phones, email and text messaging.  They shared their lives with one another through a weekly letter. The letters were not profound; the sisters wrote about the dresses they were making, the success of their baking endeavors and whom they had “visited” with that week. The letters allowed me to see my grandmother as more than my grandmother. She was a friend, a sister and a proud mother.

Last night, my oldest grandson phoned me so that he could walk me through setting up FaceTime on our iPads. We stopped everything to talk about his day and mine; I treasure each moment of that call. I love the technology that allows me to see and hear my grandson when we are so far apart but I love the tactile feel of a letter that can be held and read over and over again.

I cling to the idea that letters can transcend time and that future generations will catch a glimpse of the era of those long gone. So this weekend I am going to write letters to my grandchildren and share a story from my week. Nothing profound, just a little something that gives them insight to what I do when we are not together. Maybe I will share with them my favorite words. 

If you were going to write a letter, whom would you write to and what would you write about to them?