Cin’s Feb Challenge Day 11: Write a letter to a friend and mail it.
All my life I’ve been a writer of letters – the old-fashioned, real-pen-on-real-paper kind that nobody bothers with much anymore. I have saved random letters written to me, and written by me, and written by old dead relatives, (but don’t worry, they were still alive when they wrote them.) My sister saved some of the letters I wrote to her when we lived in the NWT, and then she bundled them up and sent them all back to me years later. I read them and hardly recognized myself.
Now I think it’s time to voluntarily retire myself from this practice partly because it’s becoming a lost art, but mostly because I tend to say some pretty crazy things off the top of my head. There is no back spacing or cutting and pasting or spell checking with ink on paper. It’s so much easier to dash off heavily revised e-mails to people and then hope they have the sense to delete them once they’re read.
Way back in the 1950’s and 60’s we were not only taught penmanship, but also proper letter writing skills in school. I often think it would be nice if kids today learned better e-mailing and chat board and texting skills. Including things like spelling and grammar and proof reading. And checking to see what strange things have been auto-corrected before they hit send.
I still remember some of our great lessons in communication back in the day. You just don’t see stuff like this anymore:
Dear Alice, How are you? I am fine. What are you up to these days? Nothing much is going on here…..
and so on, until one or the other of you dies from boredom.
A post card would always be some variation of these sentiments:
Dear Alice, greetings from Timbuktu, having a great time, wish you were here.
With a lot of exclamation marks. Never mind if you don’t really mean any of it, the important thing is to be polite and vague.
Okay, it is possible that I missed a few classes.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching “The Good Wife” on Netflix and if I’ve learned anything at all from this series it’s that things you are foolish enough to write down on paper can be taken out of context and used against you in a court of law, and that important pieces of police reports are always going mysteriously missing. The same thing happens with letters. If you make a statement on one page and explain it on the next, you had better hope that second page stays with the first. Or future generations will be questioning your intelligence and/or sanity.
The picture above is of the pages of a letter I wrote to my sister from Cambridge Bay in January of 1976. It states quite clearly that I have stopped wearing my wedding ring because I am thinking of having an affair.
See, you can say shit like that to your sister and she will get the joke and maybe even think it’s funny. Because she knows you are living in a climate so dark and cold that the only reason you leave your house is for groceries and even then you think long and hard about it. She knows you have an incredibly active little 17 month old daughter who wears you right out. And most importantly she knows that you are eight months pregnant and therefore not in your right mind. The next page goes on to explain about puffiness and swelling in my hands and feet and having to grease my fingers to pry the ring off before it cut off my circulation. No one looks good with a blue ring finger.
But what if that second page got lost? Oh well, I did say I was only thinking about it. It’s not likely that I’d send out announcements if it actually happened.
The only other vaguely interesting thing I wrote in that letter was that my daughter liked to wander into the baby’s room, grab hold of the bars on the crib and screech at the top of her lungs while shaking it as hard as she could. I should have put a stop to this behaviour before her brother was born, but I didn’t. So if he reads this letter he will know that my daughter and I are responsible for his disrupted sleep patterns if he has any.
See the kind of trouble you can get yourself into? So I will not be writing a letter to a friend today or quite possibly ever again. The notes and lists I scribble and leave all over the place will be enough to keep any hoarder descendants I might have deep in thought for a long time.
Or they could just have a big bonfire. That would also be fine.