Thursday, October 23, 2014

Writing Letters

Do you ever write letters anymore? I mean an honest to Goodness newsy about nothing letter. Something our great grandparents had a fine art in and something our grandparents did once in a blue moon. Rarely did our parents write one and extremely rarely- do we. Other than a "thank you note" (which I get a little frustrated with), when have you pulled out your stationery and written a note to a friend of family member?

I love writing letters and I write to a handful of people of a completely irregular basis about a whole box of nothing. For the past five years, I have been writing (mostly one-sided) letters to my (ready for this?) second cousin... once removed. She was born in 1928, never married (as far I know) and lives in the same house that she was born in. The house is on a handsome lot and was a gift from her paternal grandfather to her parents in celebration of their wedding (the lot- not the house). Talk about a gift! Granted, her maternal grandfather gave her parents a chest of silver flatware. RIGHT?! I could handle either of those gifts.

Back to my point- I had been writing Ellen for about two years and not thinking much about it. I would write about what my daughter and I were doing in DC, send her copies of my blog, pictures of the kids, whatever. My letters never asked many questions- mostly just a little bit news about a whole box of nothing. One day, my dad called me and got the conversation around to Ellen and asked me about it.

Dad had run into Ellen's brother-in-law and, apparently, my box of nothing had been the Sunday dinner topic of conversation amongst these three old family members, brother-in-law and the two sisters for those past two years.

Sunday dinner, after church, they would gather over a traditional feast and Ellen would relay the adventures we Cagle girls were having up in DC. I had no idea and it enchanted me that my nothing was her something.

Every blue moon, I would find a letter in my mailbox from Ellen and her fine handwriting with Mrs. Husband Cagle inscribed above my address and her letter would acknowledge my news and tell me about her garden or her nieces. She has an amazing garden. She has wonderful nieces who travel (and make me a little jealous!).

My friend from Mobile writes me every now and again. We promised each other that we would become old ladies who wrote letters to each other. She is holding up her end of the bargain much better than I am. Her letters are beautiful and they are, like mine, a newsy box of nothing. They are cherished and I get excited when her exquisite stationery is amongst bills, junk mail, and catalogs.

She has exquisite stationery. Breathtaking. Someone designed an intertwined letters of her three initials and it will take... your... breath... away.

At one point in this world, a woman's worth could be told by her paper. Mobile still holds this as fact. I write so many letters, that I have a box of notecards from Target and an embosser that get the job done. My fancy stationery still gets used- but engraved Crane does not come cheap and is saved for special occasions or just when I feel a little fancy!

There is a letter to Ellen in my mailbox right now and another sitting by my computer that will get mailed next week. It will probably take me another month or two to write again. She fascinates me and there are 150 questions on the tip of my tongue. But questions are easy to ask and, sometimes, hard to answer. So, I give her my life and my family one 4x6 card at a time- hoping she gets equally excited about my notes to her amongst her junk mail and bills as I do when an envelope has my name on it.

Pick up a pen. Write a letter. Once you get one in your mailbox, you'll know the thrill and want to push it forward.

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