For the last year, our basement has been home to many boxes of papers, cards, letters, photo albums and scrapbooks that belonged to Mark’s mom, who died just before Christmas 2013. Recently his sisters took her photos and scrapbooks to try to figure out how to deal with them and divide them among family members.
Seeing all those boxes of paper made me aware of my own containers of paper memorabilia from school, jobs, and life in general. Last spring I organized things from schools/jobs into three binders. While I saved more than I initially anticipated I would, there is a big bin in the basement that I will be tossing soon. I’ve kept it for 6 months and have not gone looking for anything, which means I can safely discard the contents.
The next paper memorabilia project concerned all the letters I'd received from sisters and friends in the years since I'd left home. These photos give you an idea of the number of missives I'm talking about. I organized them into groups by sender. Then I put them in chronological order. Then I returned them to the sender.
But first I READ THEM ALL. What was clear from doing that was that everyone wrote about what was happening to them in order to keep me current. The letters were funny, sometimes sad, often with an elegant turn of phrase. There were many things that I had completely forgotten about and many references to people that I could not recall.
These stacks of personal letters are an amazing example of how often all of us took pen to paper in those pre-cell phone, pre-computer, pre-email days. Those days are gone, and now so are the letters that captured them. But revisiting all those memories was a lovely way to end one year and prepare for the next.