For the past few months I have been contributing my bits to the international postal system by writing lettres and cards. The best thing about it is a few of the people I wrote to have written back.
A cousin wrote back with a xerox of a photo of my mother when she was 15 years old. That was so wonderful to see! He had been aware of my family tree online, but had never gotten around to contacting me before, so he had a few notes to give me about his branch of the family and how things had been going.
I managed to write a few of the hundreds of holiday cards I owe to people this year, and some very old friends (who no doubt assumed I was dead it had been so long since we’d communicated!) gamely sent out belated holiday cards in response. I never quite know what to write in a holiday card. Not too much, because I will never finish them if each has a 5 paragraph essay included, and besides it is killer painful. But not just a signature, either. Might just as well be junkmail.
(Now I am all self-conscious because I suspect a few of the cards I sent did end up being just signatures. Not because I did not have anything to say! but because I did not know how best to begin the conversation again. “Hi! you probably don’t know who this is, but we used to know each other about 30 years ago, or more, when I had a different last name…)
Another reason to write, though, is I am a stationery/paper/cards-ophile. I love heavy paper and beautiful pens and inks. And writing is an excuse to indulge in the addiction!
Each note is a bit of craftwork in itself, sent off in hopes of entertaining, informing, maybe being cherished. There is an almost Skinner-esque hope and fear of reward—will this one be received? will the adressé call, e-mail, or write back? how many do I write to guarantee a response? do I really want a response, or is the work enough in itself?