Writing a Real Letter to a Favorite Aunt

My Aunt Janice is 92 this year and she’s the only one of my dad’s four sisters that are still with us. My dad was the oldest and she was the youngest so I guess I can say she’s the last of that generation of Bixby’s.

Mary and Janice in 2016

She still lives in Minnesota and it’s been too long since I’ve seen her in person. Since my dad passed in 2012 it’s been difficult for her to come to Pennsylvania. We drove out to visit in 2016.

Amazingly, after my mother passed in 1988 Janice would call me on my mother’s birthday to tell me she had been thinking about her. We would have a brief visit on the phone. I thought she and my mother were close and that’s why she remembered her. Haha…it was because it was her birthday also! Of course!

I was thinking of her a few weeks on my mother’s birthday, but we didn’t manage to connect on the phone. I know it is difficult for us to connect with our busy schedules and the internet/email is not a natural way for her to communicate. So, I decided to surprise her with a handwritten letter!

It has been so long since I hand wrote a long letter to anyone. I pulled this book off my shelf that I’ve had for years to get some inspiration.

This book, The Handcrafted Letter by Diane Maurer-Mathison (2001) is a beautiful book. It is still in print and I reach for it often. It covers all kinds of written material, from letters to thank you cards and special holidays. It is full of illustrations about special papers and unique additions to gift cards. Here is the Table of Contents to show you the many topics covered.

The author is a native of Central Pennsylvania. I first saw her work using handmade paper items at local art shows. She’s a truly inspirational artist!

I really just wanted to write a letter, but I haven’t invested in “stationery” for a very long time. I did not have time or expertise to make my own paper! I decided to use a few sheets of paper that I had bought years ago that could so through my printer. It had pictures of embedded dried flowers that looked sort of handmade.

At this point, I could have typed the letter and printed it on this paper…but where’s the challenge in that! At least she will be able to read the cursive writing. I have to be careful when writing notes to my youngest grandchild because she isn’t comfortable reading or writing in cursive yet.

Luckily the flowers were subtle so I didn’t feel like I had to write around the pictures.

So began my letter writing exercise! It has been a VERY long time since I wrote four pages in cursive. I had forgotten how comfortable I’ve become typing and editing right on the computer…not a pencil in sight! Thirty years ago I wrote my whole Thesis out with a pencil and then typed it into the computer. I could only think and organize my thoughts with pencil and paper. Look how far I’ve come!

By the third page, I had to slow my thinking down so I could avoid skipping words and making spelling mistakes. I can’t write as fast as I can think! I kept wishing for a “backspace” button to fix the mistakes. My hand certainly had a few cramps after this marathon writing exercise! At least I know she will be able to re-read the letter as needed and I feel better about staying touch.

Do you have a special friend or relative who would love to receive a hand written note or letter from you? Break out those old skills, just for practice! You might make someone’s day! Enjoy!

Please comment or email me directly at marykisner@comcast.net.

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