Wednesday, August 4, 2010

memory box

I have a box full of old stuff, memory stuff. Report cards, pictures, letters. It's the pile of letters bound with string that bring me the most pleasure out of everything saved in that box. I can thumb through the envelopes and read the return addresses, several written in the careful blocky handwriting of my best friend from first grade. Many written in the loopy cursive of my best friend from third grade. My childhood was spent on the move, every 4 years or so we'd end up in a new city, school, house. Letters were the threads connecting me to people left behind.

I wrote fan letters as a child, too. In my stack of letters I have replies from Ann Landers (with an autographed picture!) and a lady-in-waiting to Princess Diana. That second letter came on the thickest, heaviest, richest stationery I'd ever seen--adorned with elegant script and exotic stamps. I've also saved the onion-paper and air mail envelopes sent to me from my French pen-pal Annabelle. I saved the beautiful postcards my Grandma V. sent me from her travels all over America--pictures and descriptions of wonderful places.

These letters are special as much for what's in them as for what they're on. Emails aren't the same. You cannot put the special ones in a box and fondly page through them years later, knowing immediately who sent each one because of the stationery or the handwriting. And I'm a sucker for pretty stationery, cards and good paper. I adore long letters full of updates and news bits and short notes with affectionate sayings.

Technology may replicate a many things in this age, books, letters, phone conversations among them. But texts and emails remain a poor substitute for the Original, Emotionally Gratifying, Real Deal. I've never opened an email with the same pleasure as opening an envelope. The faint smell of glue and paper, tearing the top away or thumbing the flap open if the seal is dry enough. Reading the return address and smiling, curious to know the contents.

Thank goodness for letters, postcards, notes and mail! Thank goodness for clever designers like Erin at Ink Obsession Designs who help keep the grand tradition of correspondence alive. And because I love letters, I'm giving away a box of Erin's FABULOUS notecards to one lucky reader. One lucky reader who can fill other people's memory boxes on Erin's cards. Every comment you leave this week is a chance to win--I'll pick a name on Sunday.

Spill it, reader. What card or letter or postcard have you hung on to over the years? Or are you like me, holding on to a stack of memories written and mailed your way?

17 comments:

  1. I have all the little notes my husband and I wrote back and forth during class when we first met, and then the letters while we were engaged long distance for over a year. He used to write me a note on a comic he cut out, usually The Far Side.

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  2. I had a box of notes, letters, and cards that my husband sent me over the years, with a particular emphasis on that first year. Unfortunately, the box was somewhere along the line, so now I don't have it.

    I got a letter and photo from Carrie Fisher during her Princess Leia years, which thrilled me for the longest time.

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  3. I have a shoe box filled with the love letters my husband wrote me, the ticket stubs from concerts we attended, and a napkin from where we ate dinner on our honeymoon. I'm very sentimental!

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  4. I have to admit, I'm not much of a keeper--I'm a tosser for sure! One thing that I've gotten lately that will never get thrown is a journal that I gave my grandma to write all about her life for the boys. She filled it with her quirky little doodles and a bunch of old pictures. I learned more from a half filled out composition notebook than I have ever known just talking to my grandma! Pretty cool stuff---thats a definite keeper :)

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  5. My BFF moved away the summer after 3rd grade. We kept in touch through letters. I know I kept them for awhile and then left them behind when I moved out of my parents house. We still stay in touch 25 years later but now more through Facebook and e-mail. We do send Christmas cards each year and I save those.

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  6. I love, love, love pretty paper! I was an avid penpal(er) as a child, and I miss snail mail so much!

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  7. As children, my sister and I once sent the Dutch Queen Juliana a Happy Birthday card. We received a Thank You note back from her. I have no idea where it is, I hope my sister still has it. But I have the stack of letters my mom wrote to my grandparents during our first year long stay in the US when I was six. It's fun to reread them now and then and have a story to go with the pictures in my photo albums.

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  8. I have all my reply cards from my wedding inviations

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  9. I have all the cards given to us for our wedding, along with any card given to anyone in our house since we got married. I don't know why, I just can't throw them away.

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  10. I save cards, lots of them. Cards from birthdays, our wedding, mothers day etc but especially cards from my husband. He can never find a card that says it all so every occasion he tends to buy me 2 or 3. My favorite though have to be the hand written love notes. He's not mushy too often, but I like it when he leaves a little surprise for me :)

    I also have a large collection of crafts and such from each grade my kids pass through. A friend suggested only keeping a few things and photographing the rest, but I just don't think it would be the same as holding the little hand prints and remembering how small they once were.

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  11. I am sure it is in a box somewhere, but I haven't seen it in umpteen years--I have a postcard response from Richard Nixon to a letter I wrote in elementary school. It was part of an assignment, but I was the only one in the class who got a response.

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  12. I have a box under my bed and I just went through it not too long ago....all of my favorites are the Mother's Day cards all of my kiddos have me over the years...I will treasure them forever!

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  13. I can't believe you have a letter from Princess Diana's lady in waiting. I have one too! We'll have to bring them along next time we're together. Some of my favorite letters are the ones I received from John when I was in college. I think he wrote to me almost every day! I still have a box full of letters, greeting cards, Valentine's etc. that I've hung onto forwever. It's fun to go through it every now and then.

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  14. I have postcards that my long dead grandmother sent me from a trip to Greece. I save all that stuff too.

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  15. I save all of the cards I receive from my kids, I have cards I've received from special friends and I'm sure I have letter tucked away in my Keepsake bin. I love the speed of e-mail but you are right...nothing better than opening a real envelope.

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  16. I kept our wedding cards and pulled them out a few years later. It was fun reading the cards and remembering the people who shared our special day. They were lost later in a flood, so I was glad I enjoyed browsing them while I could.

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  17. My New Year's resolution was to write more letters. Real letters. I haven't really stuck to that but there is still half a year to go.

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Spill it, reader.