Sunday, January 4, 2009

Write it down.

I have spent a good part of the day doing my duty.

Of course, by "my duty," I mean writing thank yous.

I am a true believer that thank you notes separate the women from the girls, the ladies from the skanks. Much like covering your privates in public, it's just something you do. Nevermind the fact that by the last three or four notes, my handwriting sucked because my hand was cramping up. The thank yous are done.

But just between us? The real reason I write thank yous?

It's so I can buy more stationery. There. I said it. I love stationery and I don't care who knows. My name is Cha Cha, and I am addicted to paper products!

My little problem aside ... the lost art of handwritten correspondence has a beauty to it because it's tangible proof of our stories. That's why antique stores are filled with old postcards. People hung on to them because they were important reminders, and a piece of the folks who sent them.

I received an awesome comment on my post about Christmas music. Wally Howerton wrote:

When I was 5 or 6 I had to sing "Bow Wow wants a Boy for Christmas" in front of our church in southern Virginia. This would have been the winter of 55 or 56 I believe. My mother practiced with me for hours/days. Even the church pianist/organist had a couple of run throughs with me. I had it down perfect! Well, the night of the performance, mom put a giant red bow on Chi Chi our Pekinese. I was in my suit and bow tye looking spiffy! The music started and I started to sing. Through all the practices, Chi Chi was absent after all she wasn't going to sing. Well, Chi Chi was the star performer that night. She started howling and didn't stop until the music ended. Mom was crying and mortified, I was frustrated telling Chi Chi to shut up, and the entire Church was literally rolling in the aisles. I was looking for the words to the song because I am writing and posting short stories for my grandchildren. That Christmas was a wonderful Christmas. I still laugh!

This comment made me howl with laughter! And how lucky are Wally's grandkids, to have written stories from their grandpa?

One of my greatest treasures is a stack of paper about 25 sheets high. It's two stories: an autobiography by my grandma, and one by my grandpa. My grandpa describes every car he ever owned. My grandma omits details like how her mean drunk of a father burned down his own son's house for the insurance money.

I read these stories and hear their voices, and remember the tales that fill in the spaces. Somehow, the tangible retelling of parts of their lives makes the people themselves tangible, even though they are both gone.

Maybe that's why I like blogging. By writing about my life, I feel validated - especially in the last few months, when I've felt completely washed away. But by recording my experiences, it's somehow proof that I am here. Sort of like how thank yous are proof you received a gift.

That's why I like reading blogs, too. They are proof that I'm not the only one! I'm a little amazed by the affinity I feel for many bloggers whom I have never met in person, but feel like I know very well. But, like, not in a show-up-at-your-house-uninvited sort of way.

No, I save that for My Boyfriend Dave Grohl.


LaDue & Crew said...

Dave Grohl...hehehe.

While I bet I am no where near as disciplined as you in writing Thank You's, I love all thing's stationary. I look for excuses to buy it. I also see how my children's penmanship is crap since computer's have been a large part of how they work in school. Sad.

I have all of my grandmothers writings as well. She wrote a column for the Orlando newspaper before she died- I think that is where I got my sarcasm from ;-) She was a sassy Italian broad.

Something interesting happened today- a neighbor and her husband both passed away within months of each other a few months ago. Her family was here cleaning out the house, got overwhelmed, and gave the remaining contents to my husband and I. Loads of amazing items- but what has made me breathless are the boxes upon boxes of letters that were saved from when the husband was in WWII. I now have thousands of letters, still with the original envelopes, that the husband wrote to his wife while in Europe. As I go through and read, I will have to share some with you- they are amazing... romantic... and sad. I can't wait to read them all.

you gotta wonder said...

I am behind on my duty. No excuses. I was raised to write Thank You notes and at least one of my children learned the importance of this practice. The other hidden benefit is the possibility of encouraging continued generosity! ;)

I share your sentiments entirely. I wish I had more of my grandparents' lives documented.

@ LaDue: What a blessing!

Kerry said...

I heart Dave, too...

what a great post, it got me thinking about my grandparents and how I wish I had had more time with them.

And thank you notes! Yay! I am the same way about them ;)

All the best to you for 2009

Rebecca said...

I LOVE paper products. The beautiful stationary store in our neighborhood is like my very own candy shop. Unfortunately, I don't write as many notes as I'd like since most of my correspondence is on the computer but just the look and feel of those great pieces of paper make me happy!

Madge said...

I think I'm going to try and do more hand-written correspondence this year -- because I'm doing so well keeping up on my blog reading/blog writing/facebooking/e-mailing. yeah, this should go well.

i just loved this post, it is wonderful...

Anonymous said...

Aw, crap... you just reminded me about what I forgot to have Lauren do when she was on Christmas break. Now we've got to squeeze the "thank you note writing" in between homework, dinner and bedtime. And each note takes her like eleventy-five hours to write.


Thanks for the reminder, though...

Anonymous said...

Ah, the thank yous. I adore you for that. I too write them, faithfully and dutifully and when a box of notecards empties I squeal with joy. I also make all 3 boys write them (at their ability/level, G just draws pictures of gratitude and signs his name since he's only 4). It does separate us from the chimps;)

Magic27 said...

Oh Cha Cha, I heart you! I'm a total stationery shop addict (I have a store card for the nearest one and got my first 10 Euro voucher just before Christmas - oh, the excitement!) and can't resist any of the notebooks, note cards, post cards, pens, pencils, handicrafts stuff... It's such a treasure trove!
And I've just made my list of thank you notes to write (by me and the girls).
I feel like we're soul sisters!
PS I love Bruce too and used to listen to The River, sobbing my aching teenage heart into my pillow, on many a lonely, heartbroken night...

jean said...

You mean you're supposed to USE all those pretty cards, notes and papers? I joke, but only a little. I love paper, the feel, the color, the texture, all of it. I enjoy making my own cards and then it becomes even more of a gift.

Tumble Fish Studio said...

Well, I like, especially like, reading YOUR blog. I am horrible at writing thank you's. My mom always said what you did - "lady thing to do" but that didn't work for my brother so he just added to mine. She could've said gentlemanly thing to do to him but didn't, let him mooch. She also had the idea that ladies paint their toenails (not necessarily fingernails, but toenails should always be especially trimmed, clean and painted).

Thanks for the dog singing story too - made me chuckle.

Heidi said...

'you gotta wonder' sent me your way because of my love of stationery. And, well, I'm so glad she did. Handwritten anything is this lost art I think. I really liked what you had to say especially this,
"Maybe that's why I like blogging. By writing about my life, I feel validated - especially in the last few months, when I've felt completely washed away. But by recording my experiences, it's somehow proof that I am here. Sort of like how thank yous are proof you received a gift."