I’m really tired this evening, after having tried my best to squeeze every possible moment of fresh air, joy, and sunshine out a mild October day, so my recap tonight for Adventure 3 will be photo-heavy and prose-light. Thanks for understanding.
Yesterday was letter-writing day at our house. Right after breakfast, we cleared the table, ignored the chores and laundry, hauled out every piece of fun stationary and every really good pen or pencil we could get our hands on, and got to work.
I hadn’t realized how much of my basic know-how about letter-writing–leftover over from a very low-tech childhood–I take for granted. Children do not instinctively know, for example, that stamps are not just ordinary stickers or that the way to get a large sheet of paper into an envelope is by folding it, not cutting it.
My older daughter, who has done this sort of thing once or twice before, buckled down and quickly produced three elaborately illustrated “letters” to send to her cousins out West.
One of her letters read simply, “I will come soon to see you soon, I hope.” I’m pretty sure her favorite part of the whole thing was folding up the letter and sealing it in an envelope. She tried writing the address at first, but I took over for her when it quickly became apparent that the postal service might have trouble reading her handwriting. Also, given the largeness of her script and the smallness of the envelope, there wasn’t going to be room for the stamp.
Ken wasn’t getting very far on his letter to his Grandma, as he kept being called up on to help the boy with his spelling and writing. (He did this very graciously, and I much appreciated it, but I notice this evening that he still hasn’t quite managed to sign his letter and send it off.)
The only person who wasn’t having an absolutely marvelous time was the little one. At first, she didn’t want to scribble at all, even though she normally really enjoys it. Then, when she did finally get down to the business of putting marker to paper, she kind of forgot the whole “paper” part of it.
She had another go a bit later and did finally manage to get a few scribbles down, but only after first thoroughly covering her hands.
As for me, I was actually managing to get a series of coherent sentences down on paper. (I assume they were coherent. I can’t be entirely sure because I didn’t bother to reread before I sent it off.) This was amazing to me, since I hadn’t written a proper letter in ages, and it had been even longer since I’d written anything more sophisticated than a grocery list by hand. The hand cramps were intermittent but bearable, and while I did have to watch my penmanship, since my script has degenerated considerably since I quit writing for other people’s eyes, I found letter-writing a surprisingly pleasant way to pass a morning, all in all.
Once upon a time, I wrote tons of letters. I once had whole shoeboxes full of incoming correspondence. I’d write to anyone–bosom buddies, casual friends I hoped might turn into bosom buddies, best-friend-cousins, dear aunts, far-away grandparents, boys I had crushes on . . . you name it.
Then the world changed. First the computer with a word processor came along. Then email. Then instant messenger. Then cell phones. Then MySpace. Then Facebook. Then texting. Then Twitter. By the time the revolution had come and (gone? no, kept coming), my shoeboxes of letters looked as obsolete as my parents’ record collection.
Why, though? There’s something so precious about a letter. Something so innately wonderful and timeless about writing a message of love and friendship with your own hand on a physical object and sending that tangible object–an object to which you were, for a time, close enough to touch and even to breathe upon–far, far away to someone longing for even a small token of your presence.
Also, letters feel nice. I love holding a stack of letters in my hand, feeling their heft and their smoothness. Facebook messages just lack a certain special tactile something, as far as I’m concerned.
I had been hoping that we could get though our entire letter-writing adventure without turning on the computer, and we almost did. As it turns out, however, since we haven’t been very good about updating our address book for several years, I did end up having to crack open the old lappy to look up an address or two. Other than that, though, our morning was oh-so-delightfully old-fashioned.
We sealed up our stack of letters. (I got to show my son how envelope glue works. He was a little skeptical at first.) I addressed them, and I let both of the older children stick put stamps on their own envelopes, showing them the ideal spot in the top right corners to press them down.
We marched out to the mailbox, put in our letters, and–joy of joys!–put up the flag.
My mother (who was babysitting the children in the afternoon while Ken and I went to a wedding) told me that the children had gone out later to meet the mail carrier–both to see their letters off and to explain to an official poster worker in person where it was they needed to go.
I wish I had a picture of that.
Are you keen to try a writing a letter by hand? Check out the introductory post for this adventure.
Have you tried this adventure (or one like it)? Share your experience in the comments.