At the start of this school year, I wrote here about rebooting a family tradition — a technologically ancient one — with my kids.
No longer having kids around the table (while I wasn’t looking, they both grew up and went off to college!), I had started writing and sending a regular typed snail mail letter to them. I know, texting and emailing are easier and faster, but there’s a tangible richness to thoughts on paper.
Even if they gave the letter scant attention (which I have found out is sometimes the case with the male child), I hoped the letters would be at least some communication and connection. I never expected a paper reply. But it turns out my sowing reaped a harvest I didn’t imagine.
First I need to note that I expanded the recipient list this year beyond my son and daughter to include my niece and nephew. They too live out of state, I see them only occasionally and our electronic communication is typically the quick, jaunty and bare bones variety typical of, well, electronic communication.
I had lived with their family when they were small and we’ve been mutually special ever since. So I included them in the community letter, mailing out two more copies of each. During the winter I got into a good rhythm, mailing out weekly updates on the weather, sports and my wildly exciting life. Maybe an occasional important thought. Or an eye roll at Hillary, Bernie, Donald and “Lucifer.”
In November I got an envelope from my daughter. Inside — a letter! Some chit-chat, a copy of her concert program and mention of the weather. I was thrilled.
Then in February my nephew went the whole hog. He typed up a letter and sent copies to me, his sis and his cousins. Connection! And the next month he did it again. I felt enormously flattered by his imitation. Roll over, Beethoven, I have left my mark on the younger generation.
Epilogue: My daughter graduated from college last month. So happy, so happy. Unlike high school, where the kids were threatened not to toss their caps, here the president himself urged the new grads to act. They flung their caps up, rising, crossing and falling. A joyous sight on a joyous day. I’d describe it in a letter, but everyone was there.