Letters are real treasures

I don’t know what it is lately but I’m craving an old-fashioned life.
Maybe it’s the rabbit race and pace of working so much in order to make ends meet that is the red flag for me.
Perhaps it’s the impending materialistic-driven holiday season, and my sense of not wanting involvement in it, that is sending me backwards in time.
Or maybe it was a recent mid-November retreat to the bush living in a wall tent, where the only sound was the crackling fire in the wood stove and my whittling knife on cottonwood.
Simple pleasures.
Whatever the catalyst, I’m craving an old-fashioned way of doing things—and it’s got me to thinking about how I could get me some of that.
First off, there’s the toe-tapping song, “Old, Old Fashioned” by the Scottish indie band, “Frightened Rabbit.”
The lyrics ring true. “Turn off the TV, it’s killing us we never speak. There’s a radio in the corner, it’s dying to make us see. Give me soft, soft static with a human voice underneath.”
Uh-huh.
While looking for an old diary recently, I came upon some old handwritten letters. I can’t remember the last time I hand-wrote a letter to anyone. That makes me sad.
In fact, I don’t remember the last time I received one, either, but I do remember what it felt like when I did—the glee in seeing that identifiable backstroke scribble or flowing signature flair on an envelope meant just for me.
The thick pile of handwritten letters I’d found were secured with a stiff rubber band that broke when I flexed it. There on top was a letter addressed to me from an old friend, Norrie Godin.
I could have picked his handwriting out of a line-up.
He was a gem of a man. We met in 1979 when I was home from college working for the summer. We were coffee-time pals—he in his 80s and me was just 19. He wrote me faithfully for years.
Under Norrie’s letters were those from Grandma Drennan written to me in the mid-’80s when I lived in Thunder Bay. I was a young unknowing new mother with so much to learn and she knew it.
Her handwritten paragraphs—thick with advice and family happenings—made me feel like I just might be able to do the parenting thing after all.
My Grampa Caldwell was a very special man to me. He lived in eastern Ontario and wrote me letters as I was growing up. The one I treasure most he wrote in 1960 when I was born.
Grampa wrote of the wonderful world I had come into and how much better a place it was because I was here. And no matter how many times I read it, I feel so loved, with a sense of deep gratitude for the time he took to give me the gift of those words immortalized at his own hand.
He died when I was just 14 years old.
In 2006, I received two very old greeting card boxes filled with letters dating back to the early 1920s that Grampa Caldwell had written to his fiancée, Pearl Davis, my grandmother. The letters—still in their original stamped envelopes—are filled with the days of their then young lives, future hopes, their love; my history.
Many of the letters still contain the pressed flowers Grampa had slipped inside.
I’m going to do my best to write more letters by hand and mail them. I have six grandchildren. Who better to share some “old-fashioned” richness with than my little peppers.
Lynn Nicholas was on the mark. “Handwritten notes become treasures. E-mails get deleted.”
Turn off that computer and pick up the phone. Write a letter.
I think I just found myself a good old-fashioned winter project. Insert smile here.

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