Friday, June 24, 2011

Writing Letters to my Children

Now that my kids are all away at camp, I’m doing an odd thing: I’m writing them letters. It’s an unfamiliar thing. It feels awkward to recount my daily activities in a letter to my children because usually they are part of my daily life and whatever happened in a day will be retold at the dinner table or on the ride home. An added oddity is that they want me to write those letters in German, at least the older two do, because then their bunk mates won’t be able to spy, and they will come off as cool. Not that it’s odd for me to write letters in German; well, letters maybe, but emails no. But it is odd to write to my children in German when ordinarily any written communication between us is English texting abbreviations.
I can send my sons emails through the bunk1 system so that feels a little less out of the ordinary but my daughter’s camp is still old school: Letters are the only way to communicate. So letters we write. And in the end, those letters are precious. Seeing my daughter’s handwriting on an envelope in our mailbox warms my heart like few other things do. And her quirky German spelling is endearing.
It strikes me as noteworthy that in this day and age, when communication is supposed to be instantaneous and intangible, I am left to await the clonk of the mailbox to perhaps get word from my children. I can email our boys but they can only write letters back, so another oddity was to actually slip paper, envelopes and stamps into their suitcases. My hopes aren’t up that we’ll receive a lot of letters from them; they are having too much fun, and the obligatory two letter writing sessions imposed by camp will probably yield the only ones are going to get.
The parent-child letter connection isn’t the only one that camp promotes. Today I got an email from the mother of one of my daughter’s friends with that girl’s camp address because the girls had agreed to write to each other. So here we have two fifteen year olds who are writing each other old fashioned letters to keep in touch over the summer. This has something endearing but also timeless to it. Even though writing letters is more cumbersome, and I have to make sure I plop my letters in the mailbox before the 10 a.m. pickup, there is something wonderfully everlasting about that way of connecting. Maybe because more effort went into it in the first place.


  1. How wonderful! I have a daughter in college (home for the summer), and we almost-exclusively communicate via texting/emailing when she's gone. The few letters/packages we've gotten are absolutely priceless. I remember those camp letters and it's the best. As you say, seeing the handwriting warms the heart! Nice post :)

  2. How neat! Letter writing is getting to be a lost art but there is just something special about receiving that handwritten letter that thrills the heart! I LOVE the writing in German part! That is just fun and cool!

    I've had several children travel with a missionary group. Two of them communicate entirely by texting but one of them would write a letter a week...long and newsy, added to bit by bit. It was such a treasure because it made us feel like she was right here with us. I'm sure that's how your Love Letters From Home make your children feel.

  3. Oh I do soo love REAL letter writing. I think it is ever so special that they wanted you to write in German!! The letter will be all that more special as it will be private- 'for their eyes only'!

    I've been mulling around with an idea in my head- my girls are getting married this year and I wanted to write some letters to them (although they are right here in my hous eright now) - I wanted to write some letters and put them together in a little book to give them before they get married...or I wanted to maybe mail each letter and have them receive it over the next few months...still haven't decided. It is just a thought rumbling around in my brain right now- but once again your blog has helped push that thought a bit further in the direction of getting it done!

  4. Annette ~ how beautiful! Those letters will be even more special once the kids are grown up and moved away. Not only is handwriting letters more cozy and lasting [every try re-reading emails by the fire??], but it keeps the ink flowing ~ a must for every writer. ;) When I'm stuck, I write letters.

    @ Anjuli: Yes, yes! Write them letters right now! what a beautiful gift to give your girls on their wedding days! Let us know how it turns out!

  5. Julia - thanks! You're definitely right, email and texting rule the world of correspondence now.

    Kate - yes I push myself to write those letters because I know it's important for my kids to get mail.

    Anjuli - I'm happy to hear I nudged another idea in your mind - by all means find a way to write those letters to your daughters!

    Mikaela - I've had the wherewithall to create books out of emails to capture a certain correspondence, and those books are priceless now! The nice thing is that they contain the back and forth.

  6. Perfect post today. My mom was just telling me how I wrote her from my first camp and begged her to come and get me. My daughters are so sweet to give me letters, and I keep so many of them. I've been strolling memory lane a lot lately, and found a box of old letters. Some made me cry. I miss the days of letters!

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Tia, yes, I miss the days of letters, too but I also find that I hardly have the patience anymore to write them myself, especially by hand! I guess it's a sign of how much faster everything has become.

  8. I loved this post! My daughter was at camp all last week, and when it was almost over I thought that I should have written to her and mailed before she left, so she'd receive it while there. It was too late, though. Next year I'll plan better, and send postcards and stamps with her for a reply.