Old shoe boxes in attics, bottom desk drawers, top shelves of closets, scrapbooks, and antique trunks in basements. Tucked away in these unassuming places are keepsakes from loved ones, family, and friends. They are the handwritten cards and letters, and when found years later, they can be the warm quilt that envelops you when you didn’t realize just how the passage of time had put a layer of frost on a pumpkin patch of memories. I believe there is still merit and gratification in sending and receiving cards and letters the old-fashioned way–with pen and paper–delivered by heart and hand!
In any given home, discoveries of keepsakes can transport you instantly to a different time and place, and remind you how things change, including yourself. They are old love letters from your husband of 50 years declaring his devotion, recipe cards written four generations ago by your great grandmother that you are named after, cards handmade by your first grader who is now a woman teaching other first graders, letters not so aged that you pray won’t be the last from your son who is fighting a war. When held and read, these bonds maintained through letters and cards can be a haven in a hurried ‘just-add-water-instant-mix’ world! It really is impossible to multi-task when reading your first grader’s note!
With pen and paper in hand, you are putting aside the daily mundane chores, and putting down feelings that convey, in your unique handwriting, words that ignite the emotions of others! Heartfelt feelings written that might not be as easy to say or hear in person. Or appear as little more than a template used in typed text. There’s genuine comfort in holding a letter in your hand that you know your loved one was holding. In her book “I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan”, Nancy writes of how important the handwritten letters have become to her even more so after time. Even before his death, when Alzheimer’s Disease robbed her husband’s memory and their golden years together, the letters brought him back to her and a mental running chronicle of their 50 years together. She put them in a book so that others might appreciate what it means to write what you feel to those you love.
My first recollection of writing letters is to my Grandmother. I needed to tell her everything that was going on in second grade, like I was a correspondent reporting the news, or a new Peace Corps volunteer in an undeveloped country! Sending her get well wishes with drawn hearts and kisses that I knew would make her smile! Little did I know then that I would get those very letters back 40 years later, recycling that smile full circle!
I cherish these keepsakes, tying generations together, that sew threads of handwriting and squares of nostalgia into a quilt that will keep you warm on the coldest of lonely nights!