I often wish my parents were still alive or at least could somehow know from above just how much they have influenced my every thought and action. I am not sure if I told them often enough or if they ever realized how important all my old memories would be to me now.
It is getting close to November and my recollections as a child at this time of year are crystal clear. The nights coming earlier, fierce rain outside, the damp setting in. Inside our home, the fire would be crackling, and hearty meals of stews or soups were on the stove. Our furry slippers and wooly sweaters were always on. Everything prepared for the upcoming winter. All of us nestled into our cottage and cozy in the evenings.
In early November, my mother would begin her epic task of writing to all her family in the UK and friends worldwide. Our whole family was deeply aware that it was the most important project in her mind. All the news from the previous January onward about our family events was spelled out in great detail in her yearly holiday cards (and there were a lot). Mom always took great care to buy beautiful greeting cards, but more important was the lengthy letter tucked inside. Each long letter was individually written to each recipient.
Just to be clear, photocopiers were invented back then to be sure. Yet annually, the same conversation between my parents occurred. “You know dear Shirley; you could write just one perfect letter and then photocopy it and just sign your name individually on each one” . . . "Yes, dear Henry, I am aware of this, but that is NOT personal enough for me.” And so, each year, in the lingering evenings after the dinner dishes were done and put away, in front of the roaring fire - Mom sat, writing the longest letters imaginable to each faraway person. Mom started from scratch with each letter and lovingly wrote and shared the news, easily 20 pages long. There was always much thought and love put into each one.
I can comfortably imagine the receiver's faces, smiling with delight, immediately putting the kettle on, and settling in with a big cup of tea. All the news, the stories, and the particulars from “Canada” would have been happily soaked in when Mom’s cards arrived on their doorstep.
The joy at our end, when Mom had completed this yearly endeavor and the final letter sent, was indeed a great source of celebration for the whole family!
Times have certainly changed and now of course we all communicate far more often to all of our friends and family, no matter where they are in the world. Be it by Instagram, email, text, WhatsApp, or any of the other high-tech ways available, we certainly can keep in touch. And yes, I know that I am pretty old-fashioned. But I for one, freely admit that I am always thrilled to receive a greeting card in the mail. If at any time, anyone, has made the effort to kick it old school and write me a letter, with a pen or pencil so I can see their handwriting, I feel extremely special. I would probably say it was the highlight of my day. And for sure I’d have made a cup of tea and sat down quietly to savor all the news.
My advice would be to give some of your precious time (and it is precious) to be like dear Shirley and send a holiday greeting card in the mail and add a decent-sized handwritten letter. Spread the joy. We can all use the joy.
With love, Suzanne