Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Letters From The Past

This past Sunday my husband and I undertook a very long overdue project, one we have pushed off doing for a long time.

We emptied out our attic.

It's almost like an IRA account, constant contributions over the years, but penalties if you withdraw anything.  That's kind of how we treated the stuff up there.  We did go into our attic frequently, to take down and return suitcases, The Pesach Stuff, The Succos Stuff, The Chanuka Stuff, The Machzorim.  But for the most part it was storage of things we didn't use but didn't want to discard.

One of the collections gathering dust is a box of papers and things from our pre-marriage status.  And in that box are letters. Cards. Communications. Newspaper clippings.
"A-Ba-Ni-Bi-O-Bo-Hay-Bayv-O-Bo-Ta-Bach wins Eurovision, the sign of stupidity..." (this clipping was in Hebrew and my husband had to translate while gasping for breath at the Israeli humor).

My favorite box: the Nachas box - with reports, awards, report cards (not all such nachas) of my children.  Old class photos.  The Rosh Hashana and Chanuka and Mother's Day cards,   love notes, angry notes, refua shelaima cards, birthday cards, all from my children.

Of course I spent waaaay too much time rereading everything. 

But all this is just to give you an idea of how...old everything in my attic is.  And to lead into my feelings of how fast the years went by,  my yearning for a time long gone.

Letters. Letters. and more Letters.
Between my husband and his cousin in America (he grew up in Israel) who he connected with one summer after a visit.  This was in the 70's, when people didn't call frequently. Thin light blue airmail letters, where you wrote on every available space.
Letters between my husband and his uncle, aunt, brothers, grandmother.
Birthday cards.
All the letters I wrote home from my seminary year in Israel. That my mother saved.
50 or 60 or 70 postcards from my father, who traveled often (still does!) throughout the United States. Photos of wheat fields and combines and tractors and big cities and famous midwestern landmarks.
Birthday wishes from my siblings.
Mazel Tov letters when my husband and I got engaged. Some in Hebrew, some illegible, all lengthy and wordy and shmoozy and some weepy.  (We had hoped to move to Israel.  My sisters' letters, one excited I would be living there during her seminary year four years in the future, one from a younger sister sad she wouldn't see me often).
And eventually, Mazel tov cards and letters for the birth of our children.  From my beloved grandmother, A'H.  A brother in Yeshiva in Israel.  An old friend.  A relatively new sister -in-law.
And beautiful, sometimes sappy, sometimes mushy, definitely loving and young and excited-about-our-future letters and cards from my husband.

To all of you young people from a generation that texts, emails, instagrams, tweets-  it won't be the same for you.  Even if you save every electronic communication.  It won't smell and feel like the past, like a time gone by.  Reading those old emails and texts will not take you back to those memories, won't remind you of where you were, will not be a physical lasting reminder of the beautiful relationships and correspondence you once had with your loved ones.

Go write someone a letter. Now! And ask them to write back to you.
One day you'll cherish it.


FBB said...

This is so beautiful. And so true.

Sporadic Intelligence said...

My mother made me clean out some old drawers when I came in before pesach. I'm super sentimental and kept everything from high school, every doodle, note passed, game played.

It was so much fun to read through everything, and then post it to the whatsapp chat I have with my High School friends and get a REALLY good laugh.

When I was engaged I wrote down all the texting exchanges I had with my chosson (husband) because I knew I'd want to read it years later. And it
s only 5 years, but I'm enjoying my efforts :)