I grew up before home computers, cell phones and the like. We got our first microwave oven when I was in 9th grade, and I didn’t have a color tv until after Terry and I got married.
So, I learned the art of writing a letter. Y’know, with a pen and a pretty piece of stationary, the kind that has matching envelopes and you put a stamp in the upper right hand corner. I have an address book. Not a ‘page’ on my computer, but an honest-to-goodness address book, with real pages that are alphabetized. It’s kind of falling apart, I think I need a new one. Mom gave it to me right before our wedding. Now it has crossed out addresses from when friends have moved, relatives have died, pages are falling out because I’ve just about used it to pieces. I’ll look for a new one,I think. Come to think of it, I’m about out of notecards too, and stationary. The last letter I wrote to a friend was on notebook paper, but she understands. Her stationary is like that too. I have a friend in Australia whom I’ve been corresponding with since we were 9, I got her address through the National Geographic Pen Pals club (I guess they don’t do that anymore). Here we are, 46…and still writing paper letters by hand, exchanging cards and occasional gifts…all via snail mail. Come to think of it, I owe her a letter.
One of the effects of having grown up without email is the understanding of the importance of a thank-you note. As I type that right this minute I am overwhelmed with a sense of hypocrisy, because I just now, right this minute, realized I never wrote a thank-you note to Jerseychick for the Christmas gift she sent…(Hangs head). Generally speaking, the people who send gifts in the mail are older folk, parents, an aunt, grandparents. These people CERTAINLY didn’t grow upwith email, and sending and receiving thank you notes in the mail are expected. Offense is taken if they don’t get one within a week or two after an expected date. Sometimes, enough offense is taken that they simply won’t send another gift until they get a thank-you from the previous one.
I don’t have a problem with that. I love sending personal notes on a pretty card, and receiving them, as well. However, I am having a terrible time teaching my children that.
Then they were young and malleable, I’d make them sit down Christmas Day afternoon, right about the time they’d start whining about being bored, and make them write everyone a thank-you note. Up until they left home, I’d do that. When they were teens,and they’d say dumb things like “They know I appreciate it, why do I have to write a stupid note to tell them?” and I’d reply with “They’re old school,and expect it, and you won’t get another gift from them until you do.” I would say “Come in here and sit down for a minute” and put a piece of paper and a pen in front of them, and say WRITE. They’d gripe and complain eventually do it.
Now tho, I am fairly sure…make that almost certain…in fact POSITIVE that they don’t do it anymore. #4, who often times shows more sense than the older 3 combined, will write a note willingly, and include a drawn picture in it. In fact, he’ll do it for no reason other than to write a letter. The other 3, of course, are too busy to take 5 minutes to tell the senior citizen member of the family,the one who lives alone across the country and would give their left leg to get a letter from someone young, and just write a flippen letter to them. I give them envelopes, paper and stamps. I put a pen and paper in front of them and still they’ll waffle around and make excuses. But then when they don’t get a gift…they wonder why. Dumbasses. I have even tried to compromise a bit and give them the email addresses of those same relatives (who still really like a letter by post, but will take what they can get) AND THEY STILL WON’T DO IT.
So one of my resolutions this year is to send real paper letters more. My grandmother, 98 yrs old and in a nursing home in Texas (a very nice place, not a grim type place) adores letters, but she really actually loves the email,because her eyesight’s going and email can be typed out in HUGE font size. For every email I send her, she writes a letter back and includes a recipe or two for #4, because he writes her as well. I have friends around the country in various states of distress, and I want to send them silly encouragement cards, because I love it so much when I get one. I am tired of all my mail being bank statements and catalogs. I want some PERSONAL stuff, hand written just for me, and I bet you like getting them too!
Now, how do I get my young adult male children to understand that old adult female people require a note with a stamp on it occasionally?
Do you like getting personal stuff in the mail?