The basement shelves are stacked with bins overflowing with my school year scrapbooks. Bound and determined to reduce some of the precious space they were claiming, I methodically paged through and recycled much of the paperwork that served its purpose.
In doing so, I stumbled on old birthday cards.
To my amazement, many of them had longer penned notes or even additional paper buried inside. Explanations of the latest happenings in their lives and well wishes for whatever current info had been passed through the family grapevine about myself poured from the pages.
Had you asked me, I would have listed one or two of the relatives as always sending a card.
But I didn’t necessarily remember all the lengthy correspondence at each birthday, in addition to a quick note in a card.
Handwriting, each unique, changed over the years, but each was distinct enough for me to know the penman without seeing the signatures.
And it was quite the collection of script and paper choices!
Some were scraps of notepads, others stationery, the inside and back of a card, and ruled paper.
I saved some – especially those from when my grandma and my great aunt were physically and mentally capable of writing. It was time to part with others. But I was torn because of the feelings that swelled when I found them tucked away.
At a certain point, the aunts stopped sending cards to each of the cousins. The one who held on the longest is switching to email for her nieces and nephews, but still mails cartoon friends to my kids.
The cards I unearthed serve as a reminder of those who wrote to me over the years. I was taken aback by what I discovered, and even realized I didn’t necessarily keep them this time around because of what the notes said, but because of who wrote them and what their handwriting looked like.
Just a few years later it was scrawled and pained partially due to age and partially due to Alzheimers.
So I wonder if there’s a reason I write letters too – to continue a tradition…a conversation.