I think I know where my love of stationery & my appreciation for written correspondence comes from.
I have 2 shoe boxes under my bed full of old letters and cards that I've held onto for years. I haven't looked though them in a long time. so I opened the boxes and was flooded with a million different memories.
Here's a sampling of what I found...
The oldest letters in the box are from my pen pal, Libby. Her family was from our church & missionaries in Indonesia. I don't remember how we got started, but I was 9 when we did. I had a picture of her and remember thinking she had the most beautiful blond hair. A few years later, they moved back to the States, but we continued writing each other for a couple more years. We even traded friendship bracelets we each had made.
My cousin Christin & I used to mail each other letters. The funny thing is, we didn't live far away from each other. In fact, we spent lots of time together. But somewhere, we decided it would be fun to be pen pals. The oldest letter I have is from 1986 - I was 9, she was 8. It was a lot of "Hi, what's up? Not much here". We talked about new books we got & were going to share with each other (her favorites were Babysitters Club, mine were Nancy Drew). We collected stickers together. Talked about upcoming camping trips with grandma & grandpa. Discussed what we were going to do together at summer camp.
Most were signed with "Your Cousin, Christin". And also included "W/B/S" (write back soon). Ha! I love reading through them because they're so sweet. And it's fun to remember what causes drama in the life of a 9 year old!
Remember folding notes like this?
I have a letter from my Aunt Julie. She's only 16 years older than me & lived near us before she was married. I remember we used to go over to her apartment to hang out. She eventually moved to California, which was sad for all of us. In fact, many of the letters from Christin mention how much we missed her. So we started sending her letters. I'm sure she responded more than once, but I just have the one saved. It's from June 1987, I was 10. I had to laugh when I reread something she wrote: "You are becoming a young lady. There's gonna be a lot of changes starting now & the years to come." Um, understatement of the year!
A birthday card from Denise, my first piano teacher. But really, she was more than that. She was in our lives just a short time, but I've thought of her often over the years. She was, tall, southern, and said "ya'll" all the time. And to us northerners, it was funny to hear! She was here getting her Masters degree & spent a lot of time with our family. She often had dinner with us, played piano in my aunt's wedding, and I had sleepovers at her house. I reread this card, and it warms my heart. She encouraged me to stay disciplined in school & piano, to keep Jesus first in my life, and gave me her favorite Bible verses to memorize.
I have letters from my favorite camp counselor, Robin. I'm amazed when I think that a college student faithfully corresponded with a 12 year old for 2 years. And they meant so much to me at the time. She was so creative & always made them so much fun to open!
Several notes from Ann & Mrs. Lilly, music directors at church, thanking me for playing the piano, or participating in productions. Again, I laughed when I reread one of the letters from Ann: "The rhythm was clear and the melody really cut through". Six years after getting this letter, Ann was my Music Appreciation professor. I'm pretty sure she used the same phrase in class!
1988 & 1989
Letters from my parents when I was at camp
In junior high, we had some new leaders in our youth group at church, Scott & Judy. I remember they were really fun to hang out with & much cooler than most of the adults we knew. They were only with us about a year, but Judy & I wrote each other several times after they moved. I loved her handwriting, I even changed how I made my cursive "J" because of her!
A letter from my Great Great Aunt Lulu telling me she enjoyed one of my piano recitals.
In the summer of 1994, I went on a mission trip to Romania. The translator I worked with was named Natalia. She was so sweet & asked if we could write each other once I went back home.
Notes & cards from my college roommate, Jill. They're filled with encouragement and covered in stickers & fun pictures. Can you tell she was an elementary education major? :)
Letters & cards from my sister. We fought like cats & dogs growing up. But when she started writing me in college, I knew our relationship had turned a corner! Rereading her letters made me giggle.
And her cards were full of encouragement & love when I needed them most.
Fun cards from my boothmate & co-worker, Jenn. If I had to sit next to anyone for 8+ hours a day, she's who I'd pick every time!
A birthday card from the family I used to babysit for. I think I love the envelope more than the card :)
Cards & notes from my grandparents
Every graduation card I received. I'm not exactly sure why I kept all of them. Most have no sentimental value & after I took this picture, I threw them out!
A collection of cards...
On my 16th birthday from my parents
From my brother when he was just starting to write his name
Another one from my brother. He had taken a card given to him for his birthday & crossed off my parents' names and wrote his own. Classy. But his personal note to me was so sweet that I forgave him!
A card from my dad wishing me luck at a recital
Random postcards from friends. Including a really old one from Christie, one of my best friends growing up.
Birthday cards from my co-workers in the Advancement Office I worked in during college. They got me the same card 2 years in a row!
More recent cards from friends
After reading this, you may be wondering why in the world I've held on to these for so long. I think it's because they're a tangible reminder of someone important in my life. The words of love, encouragement, & thankfulness that fill them are priceless. And whenever I open those shoe boxes, it's a fun journey to take down memory lane.