A Month of Letters & A Month of Letters

February 1, 2014 § 4 Comments

A few days before the new year, my grandmother made the difficult decision to go on Hospice care.  As a result, January has been a time of mixed sadness and lovely moments and gratitude for family and reminiscing.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to visit with my grandmother nearly every week since the end of December, but one day out of seven hasn’t felt like enough.  So, I’ve been writing letters to her.  Not every day, but more days than not, I’ve mailed off postcards, cards, and letters most of which have recounted memories of visiting her house over the years.  She’s been enjoying receiving them, I’ve been enjoying writing them, and they’ve sparked points of connection that extend beyond the two of us.  A couple weeks ago when I was visiting, a cousin of mine told me that she’d read one of my letters in which I’d described the things in our grandmother’s front hallway that I’d loved when I was growing up.  She said it was like reading something she’d written, because her childhood memories of the points of interest in that hallway are very similar to mine.  Upon hearing this, my grandmother beamed at us and said how nice it was for everyone to be able to share memories and get to know each other better at the same time.  Isn’t that a lovely truth?

January was a beautiful month of letters for me personally.

February, as you may know, is A Month of Letters in a much larger way.


In past years, while this brainchild of Mary Robinette Kowal has inspired me to sit down to letter writing more consistently, I’ve never quite met the challenge of sending a letter each day the mail runs in February.  This year, I think it’s going to happen.  As well as continuing to write to my grandmother, I plan to write reminiscing letters to other people who are dear to me.  And, in keeping with the rules of the challenge, I’ll catch up–and keep caught up–on my replies, too.

In preparation for A Month of Letters, I’ve spent part of this afternoon sorting out my stack of letters awaiting responses and organizing my writing supplies (they’d fallen into a rather catawampus state).  I unlocked my first two achievements and I’m ready to fill the month with letters.  Anyone else playing along this year?


Sunday 7: Postal-Style Mini Memoirs

June 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

I love the simplicity of orphaned postcard projects: you choose a post card, wait for it to arrive, write a tiny story about its significance to you, and send it back to the project organizer.  It combines the human drive to connect with the spirit of StoryCorp and the fun of sending mail.

I’ve adopted two sets of postcards in recent months.

The first set, courtesy of PostMuse’s Orphaned Postcard Project, arrived in April.  I sent one postcard back immediately, but am hanging onto the second one until next month (I haven’t forgotten, PostMuse, I promise!) so I can actually post it from its location of origin (it’s the little things in life that make me clap my hands with glee).

The second set arrived a few days ago from Kate who shares her love of postcards via deltiolog.  I requested a postcard that prompted a memory from elementary school that I hadn’t recalled in years.  Since Kate sent me an extra postcard, I’ve been having fun wracking my brain to come up with a second story to share.

The process of choosing postcards, then writing stories to explain their significance got me thinking: I should write some postal-style mini memoirs!   If the concept appeals to you, too, here are some ideas to get you started.

7 Ideas for Creating Postal-Style Mini Memoirs

  1. Commit to writing one mini memoir each week and send them serially to one lucky recipient.
  2. Recount stories you remember being told by older relatives and send them to your younger relatives.
  3. Choose a theme (e.g., “The Wilderness of Middle School” or “Best Meals I’ve Ever Eaten”) and let it inspire a mini memoir series.
  4. Borrow a page from the Orphaned Postcard Project and use postcards, greeting cards, or your favorite quotations as memory prompts.
  5. Raid your photo albums and create mixed-media mail art memoirs.
  6. Recruit a few friends and write a Round Robin letter* about a shared experience.
  7. If you like the idea of turning mini memoirs into something larger, copy or scan your missives before you send them.  Then gloat over your compiled memoir in private, tuck it away to share with special people, or blog it for the world to enjoy.

Happy writing — I can’t wait to hear about your Postal-Style Mini Memoirs!


*There are apparently several definitions for a “Round Robin” letter.  I’m talking about the type of letter that one person starts, then the next adds to and so on until a packet with letters and comments from everyone involved arrives back in the hands of the original sender.

Legacy of Letters

December 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lakshmi Pratury neatly sums up how I feel when she says:

I’m all for email and thinking while typing, but why give up old habits for new?  Why can’t we have letter writing and email exchange in our lives?

Like pretty much everything else in the world, it’s a matter of finding the balance that works for you.

And I love what she shared about the handwritten legacy she received from her father.  There is something about the tangible nature of scraps of paper that doesn’t, for me, have an electronic equivalent.  Have you ever visited a famous place and had the experience of realizing that you are in the same space where history was made?  That always makes me feel like I’m seeing the past from a slightly different and more personal angle.  The physical connection just makes it more real.  With letters, knowing what I hold in my hands was touched by the person who sent it is just as cool as realizing that Frederick Douglas, Shakespeare or the Marquis de Lafayette most likely stood exactly where I am standing.

Thanks, Mom, for sharing this video!

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