This may be my favorite story I’ve ever written. Read the original here:
By Cecily Whiteside
We have all felt that thrill. We walk to the mailbox expecting bills and sales flyers, but as we rifle through the junk mail, there, laying like a priceless jewel is a hand-written note. The envelope is pale blue or bright yellow, the writing is slanted and off center and familiar, and something inside of us sings.
In this day and age, anything urgent, anything of a business nature, happens via text or email, so a hand written letter is a luxury. It smacks of timelessness and personal attention. It says “I love you” and “you are important” is a profound way. It may be a birthday card (maybe with five dollars in it, grandparents are good at this one) or a get-well-soon card, but my favorite ones are the out-of-the-blue letter. The one that is so unexpected, and because of that, all the more special.
For this reason I like to keep a few blank notecards handy. I put them in a basket next to my morning chair; you know the one, where you sit to drink that first cup of coffee, look out the window at whatever the weather is doing, and think about the day. This way, when inspiration happens, when I get an urge to jot a few encouraging words to an old friend or my daughter in college, they are there, ready, and I can act on it immediately. Believe me, if you say ”I’ll do it later,” it will never happen. The moment will pass and that little gesture of love will never reach beyond you.
It is also timeless to send a letter. In my box of treasures, I have letters my grandparents wrote to me thirty or forty years ago. The content – which hen is laying best this spring, or which of my cousins visited over fall break – has a certain sweetness, but it is seeing their writing, loops and swirls as they greet me with pet names like “Darling Cecy” that makes my heart warm. I also have a stack of priceless letters that my grandmother wrote to her mother when she was 17, and lived in Paris for the winter. Through these sweet, warm missives, bursting with her personality, I got to know her as a young girl, full of hope, and excitement, and adventure. It added a layer to the amazing woman I knew 40 years later.
I also have notes that I wrote. My mom kept some of my junior high letters to her, sent during summers I spent away from home. They are full of angst and boys. I laugh at myself, but I remember too, which makes me a little more understanding and maybe even a better mom to my 6th grade kids.
And then there are the love letters. Tied up with a ribbon, tucked away in a safe place, well-worn from handling, these notes remind of us the giddiness of new love, and help up look with generous eyes on our partner when the trials of life overwhelm.
I recently asked my kids “who would like to get a note from you?” They each took a notecard and sat around the kitchen table, heads bent in concentration (one son sticks his tongue out of the corner of his mouth when he focuses, which always makes me smile). We talked of the loved ones who would get a thrill in the mailbox in a few days, and we walked with an added bounce in our step the rest of the day.
Then I went to the mailbox, rifled through the junk mail and there, like a gem, was the familiar handwriting of my daughter far-away in college.
Published with permission of Grand Valley Magazine