There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters…I could be their leader. –Charlie Brown
Happy Friday readers! I hope that wherever you are, you are enjoying as beautiful weather as we are here in Ohio. It is actually sunny and warm with no inclement weather on the radar. Gasp! Can it be true??? I for one am soaking up as much of this goodness as I can, which means you will find me settled on our patio with a good book every chance I get.
What am I currently reading? I’m so glad you asked! This week I started To the Letter, by Simon Garfield. It is a wonderful book about the lost art of letter writing.
I have always been a big letter writer, and now, also a card sender. Even when I was younger, as early as middle school, I would exchange letters with friends. This tradition may have started as early as elementary school, when a friend and I went off to summer camp. During our first dinner at camp that night, we were informed that there were certain “traditions” that went along with receiving mail; I.e. how much mail you received each night determined your fate with a number of silly “consequences,” such as walking the plank (diving board) fully clothed, having to kiss the moose head in the dining hall, or being sent down the slip and side.
Each night, we were bombarded with letters from family, mostly filled with silly rhymes about our time at camp from my dad and her mom. I treasure those letters, not only for the fun they brought me, but because now, all it takes is one look at them and I’m instantly transported back to a time and place that I loved.
Every since then, I’ve had a mild obsession with letters and cards. I love buying stationary. I love writing letters. And to me, nothing beats the pleasant surprise and excitement that comes with receiving a lovely envelope in the mail with a friend’s return address.
I have boxes upon boxes of old letters, cards, notes and hand-written poems from family and friends. They are as valuable to me as photographs. I treasure them not only for the old memories they document, but for the new pleasure they hold when stumbled upon in the future. As I began To the Letter, I resonated with the idea that letter writing is a special and important tradition to maintain. In his into, Garfield writes:
…the romance of the mail and the news it brings, the transformative possibilities of the post – only the landing of a letter beckons us with every-renewable faith. The inbox versus the shoebox; only one will be treasured, hoarded, moved when we move or will be forgotten to be found after us. Should our personal history, the proof of our emotional existence, reside in a Cloud server (a steel-lined warehouse) on some American Plain, or should it reside where it has always done, scattered amongst our physical possessions? That emails are harder to archive while retaining a pixellated durability is a paradox that we are just beginning to grapple with. But will we ever glow when we open an email folder? Emails are a poke, but letters are a caress, and letters stick around to be newly discovered.
While I know letters can carry just as much vitriol as an email, I was struck by this final point. How often are fights started or continued via email? Yet cards and letters carry kindness, consideration and laughter. Perhaps this is due to the investment required by letter writing. There is no keyboard, no spell check, no dashing off our words and hitting send without a second though. Letter writing takes time, effort and a certain level of thoughtfulness that isn’t required by sending an email.
Don’t get me wrong, I love sending emails! And, I find them incredibly useful for both personal and professional use. But reading To the Letter has reminded me that letter writing is both an art worth practicing, and and pleasure worth pursuing. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to make letter writing a normal part of my week. Consider it my own, personal, ritual. My hope is to write one letter a week, to whomever is on my mind at the time. I’ve already begun writing letters to my kids; generally they are just filled with funny anecdotes and things that I like about them at the time.
I doubt my letters will be archived and used for great historical or anthropological advancement in the future, but hopefully they will bring a smile to the reader’s face and, who knows, maybe my kids will get a kick out of them someday.
His Girl Friday
If you are looking for a yummy new hummus recipe, I’m crazy about a new one I’ve whipped up this past week! I love my recipe because it doesn’t use Tahini which is just too expensive. I hope you enjoy!
1 can great northern beans, rinsed (I know, I know. Hummus is supposed to be made with garbonzo beans, right? But great northern make a much creamier hummus. Try it! You’ll love it!)
2 TB olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB lemon juice
1 tsp dried dill
1/4 C fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp garlic salt (or plain salt)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until desired level of smoothness. Chill. Great with crackers, fresh veggies, pita or tortilla chips. Or, my favorite way, as a spread for a yummy, vegetarian sandwich!