If communication was all about speed and efficiency, then letters would be deader than they are now.
The skeptics would ask me – and some have – ‘why not just send your letter as an attachment to an email?’ Good point. The kids could just print a letter off at their convenience and be done with it.
But then, speed and efficiency and convenience are of no concern to me.
It may be splitting hairs, but letters have an edge when it comes to all the good things communication can be. Creatively speaking, I know my product is for two sets of eyes. It can’t be forwarded with a click. The element of anticipation spans my excitement of creation and Ellen and Reid’s anticipation (I hope) of reception. To my way of thinking each page has tensile qualities that even if sheets of paper were to be spit out on a laser printer on the other side of the continent, it just isn’t the same. When you hold a letter there is a tangible feel and weight to the envelope and the page. My fear is if the notes were sent electronically, what would differentiate them from the endless stream of run-of-the-mill emails? Not much. Letters, it seems to me, have an element of privacy and one-to-one personalization (or one-to-two in this circumstance) the web cannot account for. Letters run counter to all of that. And this is only a partial argument. Just wait until I get warmed up.
So while I use email and texts as much as the next person, speed and expediency be damned when it comes to telling my two what is important in our lives. And it’s for their eyes only.
That said, here are snippets from last week’s letter.
February 1, 2010
Ellen/Reid: After the way you guys have been blasted by a heavy winter, I can just see your faces when I tell you my portion of Charlotte had about an inch of snow over a half inch or more of ice on Friday night and into Saturday morning. ‘Yeah, dad, what’s the big deal?’ Well, it did grind the town to a halt. They just don’t have the equipment or driver savvy down here to deal with it. Watched one woman, no kidding, put the pedal to the metal and burned her tires trying to get up a meager driveway. She had plenty of room to back up 10 to 15 yards then make a mild run at it in low gear and make it with ease. My little driveway was caked in solid ice, so I walked a little over a mile to the grocery story to retrieve some beans for chili plus other items that would fit into two cloth bags without weighing me down completely. In their haste to stock up on provisions, other Charlotteans created a run on generic chili beans so I had to make do with the more expensive brand names. But it ended up good Saturday night. Washed it all down with a couple of beers.
Reid, those Ken Burns’ DVDs on the national parks are unreal. Watched two of them and it was just wonderful. He has a way of lampooning officials and muckety-mucks who tried to stall or over-commercialize the park system. The photography is incredible. Poor John Muir, the guy tried to do his best to protect Yosemite but he got ignored by the powers that be when they decided to dam a river so San Francisco could have water. Very poignant. When I’m done with the series I’ll get them to you or Ellen if you haven’t seen them.
Was strolling for lunch last week when I went into an eatery that is on my must-visit list. For some reason I was looking down and spied a roll of quarters to the customer side of one of the cash registers. No one was around and I could’ve pocketed it, but sought out the manager and made the return. She gave me a cup of coffee in return. That was nice. I was on the prowl for greasy food because I’m sick and tired of toting yogurt and apples almost every noon. What I really want is some good ‘ol country fried chicken with a side of fries. When you guys come down here next, we’re going to Prices and get us some.
I told your grandparents last week that while I’m not overly concerned with the gas pedal sticking on the Camry, it could be a feasible excuse if I’m ever pulled over for speeding. But by the time I mention it, the trooper would say “Okay, pal, I’ve heard that one before.” Not sure when the recall will actually reach down to my level.
Ellen, the new table is fabulous. Cannot wait to see it live and in person. I don’t know that I would necessarily skimp on chairs since it is such a nice table you want something to complement it. I reiterate that I’ll help you with at least two of the chairs. Your mom may spring for some, too. That your couch is delayed a couple of more months isn’t right. Hope you get some sort of big discount or refund. That’s way too long to have to wait.
I’m staying here for my birthday. The decision is okay with me because travel would have been so wearying and stressful. Your uncle doesn’t care for it too much and I wasn’t as communicative with him as I could’ve been. The days of mega-air miles are long gone for me. Then again, I’ll jump at the chance to come see either of you.