Keepsake Letters

One of my summer projects is to go through some boxes of keepsakes. I have them labeled in our garage - each box is labeled with a person's name, so I know which one to throw stuff in when something significant happens. I also have a couple of boxes from my mom. When she passed away, I got some of her special things and I put them in boxes.

Most of these boxes were filled to the brim.

Opening up our family one and I saw a few major culprits to it being too full: I had saved EVERY card we had received from our wedding. That got consolidated.

I also kept a stack, 4 inches high, of leftover napkins from our wedding.

I kept a couple in the keepsake box, and now we are actually using up the couple hundred or so that I had saved. Hey, I don't want to waste them.

Same with the extra invitations and thank you cards.

Then I spent some time going through the boxes. Most of the stuff in the kids boxes I kept; except when I realized that we had way too many school books/records in there, especially for the older kids. (Kept in case I had to prove they were educated or something. If you have any doubts, feel free to go through my trash this week.)

I did keep a splattering of schoolwork so they had something to look back on. The girls helped with this part and got to choose what fun things to keep.

I might blog about other things I found, but the point of this post were the stacks of letters I found in my mom's bin.

She had quite a stack of these, most of them written to her from September 1967 to May 1968, when she was away at college. A few of these letters are from people I don't know, but the majority were from my grandma.

I read most of them.

This children, is why I taught you cursive. So you can read it.

Letters were the way to communicate back then- phone calls were expensive and stamps were only 5 cents.

She was very encouraging to my mom and sent her Bible verses and thoughtful notes. She also had a funny sense of humor.

This postcard is from her cat, Patches. And it is in its entirety below:

Dear Mary,
What's this I hear about your being homesick for me?? Ha! Ha! (meow, meow). I don't seem to miss you much. Because I run everyone around here, even Grannie.
I meow at the front door, if no one comes I go to the back door and meow; no once comes and I go to the patio and then someone hears me and I get in.
This morning no food. So I raised CAIN 'til mom walked to the store and got me some food. Then believe it or not, she had gotten me some I didn't like, as I went off and pouted. Maybe she'll get the message (I didn't).
Oh well, I'll go out and get a mouse or go up on the roof. That gives Ma a scare but I really like it up there and of course I can get down but don't tell Ma.
Oh yes, while she was gone to the store I had fun with her white and purple yarn. She really gave it to me when she got home. Ha.


And in the middle of another letter, the bird got his very own paragraph:

"(Twiddy takes over my letter) By the way, what did I do that you don't miss me? I whistled at you every day, told you "I Love Mary" (sometimes I say "I Love Twiddy"), "Here Spotty", "Kitty, Kitty, Kitty".... I miss hearing you play the piano. Mom and Dad tell me you are learning more songs. Keep it up. Love, Twiddy"

One of my favorite memories of my grandmother was how much she made me laugh. There are a few funny lines she said that My Sweetie and I still say to each other to this day.

This cracked me up, in almost every letter my grandmother asked her to please write. This was on the outside of one envelope:

"That stamp is to write to me with."

How precious to have these letters and to see their relationship. You can tell from some of the letters that their relationship was strained - my mom didn't write her back much and was stressed about things at school and in her life - but my grandmother kept encouraging her and comforting her with her written words. And in every single letter, she let my mom know that she was praying for her.

This made me think of my own parenting. At times I feel frustrated when my older kids don't seem to respond to me. Or when they might seem distant or reserved. But like my grandma, I can always do something for them. I can pray. And not just tell them I am praying, but really praying for them. This is a great reminder for me! And I do know - from conversations I had with my mother when I was younger - that she was really struggling during this time in her life. But she kept these letters because they were special to her, and she ultimately kept the faith.

These letters went back into the box to keep. But because I only get into these boxes every few years, I decided to write out those funny parts on here, so my kids can remember them.

Letter writing is a dying art. Now we text or instant message or Facetime..... maybe talk on the phone, but never write letters. I'm not saying we should go back to that - I love texting to get info and keep up with my older kids, but it does make you stop and think how times are changing.

I'm not done going through all this stuff - my next project is to get photos together of the grandparents and great-grandparents to make a photo collage.

And, I am spending my time going through the box of family memories.... letters from the kids, art, things they said ....... good memories.