Letters from Home

Letter-writing used to be big. Trips to the mailbox held great promise. Most days there was enough mail to preoccupy and distract for a little while. But letters were the best.

I spent a good number of years in my youth at summer camps — Camp Blue Haven as a camper and, later, Camp Grady Spruce as a dishwasher and counsel0r. (Two separate jobs and two separate summers.) The mail-call ritual was a highlight of the day.

As a camper, I was so excited to hear my name called. I would tuck the envelope into my pocket and let the anticipation grow as I hurried through lunch. Then off to my cabin in The Barn and the mandatory rest period after lunch. From my bunk, I would read the latest news from home — at least the news that would interest a 10 to 14 year old boy. Most often the letters were from my mom with an occasional missive from my grandmother.

As a camp worker, I don’t recall getting letters from Mom, although I probably did. But I do remember those from Nancy, my life-long love, and from Nikki and a few other friends. As I recall, I received a number of letters from girls who were interested in my brother, Carl, and who thought that making friends with his little brother was a good tactic. I have to admit, I felt a little bit of power from being in that broker role.

Regardless, they were all letters from home. “Home” is a relative term. After all, I heard from people who weren’t from my home. But it was through this correspondence that I learned that home really is where the heart is. The thought that someone would take time and put pen to paper while thinking of me created a place of belonging and brought home wherever I was.

I witnessed Nancy’s dad, Jack, practice this labor of love. I watched him write letters to family and friends. I carried hundreds of his letters from our mailbox to our kitchen table. I watched Nancy reading those letters and then writing her response in turn.

The phone was right there. But there was something magical about letters from home. Not quite as good as a face-to-face visit, but a tangible, lasting conversation on paper.

I know. That era is gone for the most part. But if you can remember letters from home, find a way to recreate the same anticipation, joy, and satisfaction with those you love.

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4 thoughts on “Letters from Home

  1. I have a photo album that holds all my letters from my grandmother that she wrote to me as a little girl. The joy I held looking forward to those letters. It was a thing we did, adding funny little stickers and drawings. I look back and see the scribbles from an eight year old and the eloquent writing of a young teenager as my letters changed while I grew. That is a piece of my grandmother I hold dear. I’ll never get to hug her in my arms again, but I can look back at those special letters and warm my heart remembering them. Something I think we should get to doing. It’s even more special now since rarely does one put pen to paper.

  2. I was blessed to be the recipient of many sweet letters from Nancy’s dad, and like him, she has blessed me with the wonderful communication that is so tangible. Thanks for the great reminder of the joy of letters!

    • Karen,

      You are such a faithful friend and correspondent, as well. Your letters to Nancy’s dad and now, the notes of encouragement to Nancy and me, have blessed us. Thank you so much for taking the time to be that voice captured on paper.