Cards & Letters…

I wonder if sending someone a card has become a lost art? Has writing a letter become gauche, old-fashioned, and dated? Like me? Facebook is so smart, it lets me know on the day when one of my “friends” is celebrating a birthday. The next step is me going to their home page, write a 2 sentence (max) snippet, wishing them a great day. Time to move on. What in the world happened to writing a letter or sending a card? I used to be queen of sending cards. Not just birthday, anniversary or thank you cards. For all occasions. Better yet, a no occasion card. My favorite kind of card to get in the mail.

 

My favorite card I’ve ever gotten…

This is what the card says inside. Hysterical…

 

Writing letters, and thank you notes were a big part of my life growing up. No texting, IM, e-mail, Tweets, Twits, Facebook, or Instagram. I still don’t know what some of that stuff is. Although I do know several twits. Heck, we didn’t even have the luxury of leaving a message on the phone. There were no answering machines. If you left a message, it was with a real person. Who just might forget to forward that message for you. But usually it was the mom or dad of who you were calling. No voice-mail. I’m one who fully appreciates technology, probably more than most. Since I’ve lost a huge chunk of hearing in both ears, I’ve come to the realization that the phone is not my friend. I used to love yakking on the phone. Now I dread it when it rings.

 

Card attached to a gift from Peyton. She was 10…

 

I started e-mailing my kids years ago. Moved on to texting, Messenger, even FaceTime recently. My 5 year old grandson Graham does not like to talk on the phone. But several months ago, Sarah had him FaceTime me. I didn’t realize that my iPad was singing a different tune. And I didn’t know how to answer it (him) at first. Graham is actually more interested in watching himself make goofy faces as he carries on a conversation with me. But I’m ok with that. I’m happy to see his little mug while he arches his eyebrows, scrunches up his adorable face, or sticks out his tongue. Not long ago, I heard that familiar chirp coming from my iPad. Yup, it was Graham using FaceTime. He’s up at the crack of dawn like his gram, so I knew it was him. While we were talking he started wandering through his house, twisting and turning his iPad so many times at weird angles, I was getting dizzy. Soon I heard Sarah in the background. Graham turned and questioned her, “hey mom, you want to talk to grandma?” Oh-oh, Mom didn’t know that Graham had called me. All on his own. At age 5. What a hoot!

 

Graham making faces like when we FaceTime together. 2014…

 

Enough with all the hoity-toity technology. Let’s get back to cards and letters. Since I was teen, I’ve written hundreds of letters. There’s not much that compares to the great feeling of getting an unexpected letter in the mail! (Although an independent call from my young grandson ranks right up there). Someone actually cared enough to take the time putting their thoughts on paper, address and stamp it, and slip it in the mail. For ME. How thoughtful. Do you remember writing notes constantly in school? It was an important social aspect of being a teenage girl.

I recently found some old cards and letters from the 1960’s. A couple were from my best friend Char. Filled with gossipy tidbits surrounding the lives of 14 year old cliquey girls. But there’s a huge difference between reading her letters written personally to me, than having someone put them on a post on Facebook. For the world to see. Another letter and birthday card were from a boyfriend when I was 12. They’re so funny. Wasn’t much about him declaring his undying love for me as much as his insecurities. Comparing himself to some other boys in our class. Pretty strong cutdowns. But I can remember those scary, insecure feelings. At the end of the letter Tom did profess I was his one and only true love. At least for that month. Or week.

 

12th birthday card from my boyfriend Tom…
 
Signed in pencil. In case he changed his mind?
 
Signed in pencil. In case he changed his mind?
Signed in pencil. In case he changed his mind?

 

I have some really old letters that were sent to my grandma when she was young. Wonderful, newsy 4 page affairs from her sister who had moved away from their Sioux Center, Iowa home. Her penmanship was almost like calligraphy. Worth the price of admission right there. Beautifully written visually, with heartfelt love in her prose. You know what I think a huge problem in the whole sending out cards and letters scenario problem is? It’s my smart (ass) phone! I used to have all important phone numbers memorized. Along came the smarter-than-me phones and tablets. Now it was no longer necessary to keep those phone numbers in my head. My phone did it for me. It got worse with Facebook. Although I have friends, but no addresses or phone numbers. If I need to get a hold of them, I zip over to their home page and leave a private message. But there’s really no way of contacting them by phone or at home address because of all our technology. Some of those personal connections are a thing of the past. My Christmas card list is way down the last decade.

 

Homemade card to my Mom, about 1957. Misspelled my name…

 

My Mom had beautiful penmanship. I used to love getting letters from her. After we moved to eastern Iowa, I wrote Mom and Dad a couple times a week. Of course my kids were small then. I could always find things to write about the kids. New things they were attempting or accomplishing. First steps, new little toofies, starting their potty training, kindergarten. Worrisome things, childhood diseases, diaper rash, teething. It was a great way to stay connected. At the time, long distance phone calls were much too expensive to talk about everyday, routine things. Even if you waited until nights or weekends, I was always logging up my minutes in my head. Trying to keep that phone bill down to a minimum. So we wrote. It was with great anticipation that I waited for the mail each day.

 

Mom’s handwritten recipe in the back of her cookbook…

 

Over my lifetime, I’ve gotten cards and letters that have stuck with me for months. Months afterward, I would get a lump just thinking about a certain card I had received. Usually not a thank you card. It’s the ones that were totally unexpected. “Thinking of you” cards. Either by what they wrote personally, or the clever way the card was worded and designed. Ok, shout out to Hallmark. You get it right most of the time. Usually in a hilarious way, or so thoughtful that reading it makes me cry. But my word, have they gotten incredibly expensive? Once social media exploded, society started changing. This wasn’t something I noticed right away. But after awhile the cards slowly dwindled in my life. When I think about it, I really miss getting cards and letters.

 

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Receiving this could and did make my week…
 
Receiving this could and did make my week…
Wonderful couple. I’ll get to their story soon…
 
Receiving this could and did make my week…

 

A couple of year ago, I met Sarah’s 90 year old grandma at Graham’s 4th birthday party. Betty was born, raised and lived most of her married life in Michigan. She had moved to California a few years ago, and just moved back to Michigan. I had given Sarah and Adam some jars of my canned goods. Sarah in turn, shares them with her Mom, sister and grandma. Not long after meeting her that day, I received a darling handwritten note from Betty. Thanking me at length for the pint of pickled beets Sarah had given her. One of her favorites that she hadn’t had for awhile. In her note, Betty explained she and her husband had huge gardens for years, and beets were one of their staples and favorites. It was just the cutest, most thoughtful note. I wrote her back immediately, thanking her for taking the time to write me. She wrote back immediately. Ta-da, I got a new old-fashioned pen-pal. Out of the clear blue. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure it’s my turn to write Betty back.

 

Sarah, pen-pal grandma Betty, and mom Karen…

 

I’m still a sucker for cards. I have to force myself to pass by a card shop. I love having a huge variety of cards in the house. This stems from one of my kitchen quirks. I don’t like to run out of anything. Ever. If I want to make 12 dozen assorted cookies right now, I want all the stuff I need to make that happen. At my disposal. I am slowly paring down the quantity of kitchen staples I keep, since I’m no longer cooking and baking for all my little people. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I never used to make a batch of anything that required less than 4 eggs. Most times it was 8 eggs or a dozen. Now stuff looks funny in my Kitchen Aid mixer bowl, having such a puny amount in there. And I’m not baking very much. That feels different too.

 

Hurts to look at. She had tremors, but still wrote me…

 

When I was Parish Visitor, I wrote a ton of notes, and sent a lot of cards. I’d do a month’s worth of birthday cards on the 1st of each month. It just took a minute to write a couple sentences in each one. I’d seal them, but not put the stamp on the envelope. Rather I’d write the date of their birthday in the corner. Stack them numerically. When I was leaving the house in the morning, I’d check my stash of ready to be mailed cards, stamp the appropriate ones that needed to go out that day. Now I have all the time in the world, yet send out very few cards. I’m blaming Facebook. They should get their act together. I need to know these birthdays a week in advance. Not the day of. And since Facebook knows so darn much about all of us, find their home addresses for me. I got a bunch of cards I want to mail. Maybe Facebook and my sarcastic phone are not as smart as I thought…

 

A postcard that still has a squeaker…
 
From the Beumer’s mid 1950’s…
From the Beumer’s mid 1950’s…

 

 

One thought on “Cards & Letters…

  1. Thanks for reminding me that I have a lot of letters written to my then girlfriend, now wife, from college that I want to shred before my kids see them after my demise. Nothing x-rated, trust me, but very sappy sounding. Well, that will get me back in the basement. 😤

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