Nostalgia For Mail (And The Odd Paper Cut)

Felicia (talented writer, fashionista, and friend) invited us to read her blog post: the joys of the handwritten note. The title caught my eye, so I clicked the link.

And was immediately overwhelmed with nostalgia.

Back in the day, I loved writing letters to people. I would write long letters to friends and relatives during summer vacation. Sometimes I would send off five letters at a time, hoping that I would receive five replies back within the next couple of weeks.

My disappointment would be great if nothing arrived in my name. (At one point I would hang a sign on the mailbox that read, “DO NOT PUT MAIL HERE.” My mom got annoyed and took it down before the mailman had a chance to even see it.)

I was never one for using fancy stationary. I’m the type of person who will just hold on to any fancy sheet of paper for years and years because I don’t want to ruin it. The packs I own are still in their original shrink wrap and tucked away towards the bottom of my desk drawer. I rarely ever wrote on paper that wasn’t lined with three holes on the left side; the only exception were the thank you cards I’d send to relatives after my birthday and Christmas.

My two favorite people to write to were my grandmothers. One was biological and the other was surrogate. My biological grandmother was always a let down for me, because she would take a couple of months to write back. And since English was her second language, her letters always came out strange. She would always use her typewriter to send me letters and would capitalize random words.

Example: I had decided I was going to make miniature pictures for her and drew about 15 objects before mailing them to her. A response came about two months later with the line, “Thank you for your hard ARTS work.”

Her letters were hard to read, and sometimes I would have my dad interpret her English for me. She always spelled my name wrong on the outside of the envelope (Katherine instead of Kathryn), but in her letters and when she spoke to me, she always called me by my Japanese name.

My surrogate grandmother always sent letters handwritten, so up until I was able to read and write in cursive, I had my parents read them to me. Sometimes she would include pictures of herself or her family or shots of Long Island (where she lived and where my dad grew up). Every once in a while she would send me little ziplock bags of lavender tied with a bit of blue ribbon so I could use it for a sachet. Lavender was about the only flower that could be dried and saved that grew successfully in her garden; her late husband loved roses but only one ever blossomed on the bush they planted.

Both of these ladies have since passed on. Where I placed their letters I’m not sure, but after they passed, I discovered that they had kept every single letter I’d ever sent.

I miss getting correspondence via snail mail. It’s sort of a nice reminder, like someone’s saying “I’m thinking of you.”

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