September 18 08

Emily got a letter in the mail last week from a camp friend. a real letter!! i can’t remember the last time i got something in the mail that wasn’t a bill or a birthday party invitation for one of my children. i was actually jealous of this letter. it was handwritten on pink paper and had doodles in the margin. it was ‘sealed with a kiss’ in a heart on the envelope. a total throwback.

the first letters i remember writing were to my sister when she was away at sleepover camp. she still has them in a box in her bedroom at my mom’s house. they say things like, “i miss you. mom got a new haircut today. waka waka waka” (you’ll have to excuse my Fozzy-language…i was, um, 7?) i swear. i really wrote things like that.

and then my family went to Florida when i was 8. and i met two girls, Taulbee and Lauren. and i had my very first pen pals. we wrote about boys and school and our teachers who smelled. we used acronyms like LYLAS (love you like a sister)

and, of course, SWAK. we competed to see who could add the most numbers of obligatory x’s and o’s at the bottom of the page. we competed to see who could have the quickest turnaround time. we competed for the most kick-ass stationary. we wrote things like, “this boy Jason, he’s really so cute. he wears glasses and picks his nose. so i can’t like him. i mean, he picks his nose. and then flings his boogers. grody!” i swear. i really wrote things like that. i still have them in a box in my bedroom at my mom’s house.

i was a terrific penpal. hopefully devoted to each and every one. (movie? come on? anyone? bueller?) camp friends. friends who moved away. my cousin in Virginia. i once developed a several year long pen-palship with a girl i met at a bat-mitzvah. true story. i loved sending pictures and seeing their pictures. i loved including little things like stickers or small erasers. i would add funny newspaper clippings and recipes and pictures i drew of people in school.

and the kicker? right after Emily got her REAL letter, my friend Pnina sent me this (not REAL) message on facebook:

I come out of the garage with LETTERS upon letters from friends in the old country.  yours were SO funny! You were telling me all about your boring high school classes, who you had a crush on, who was dating who and then I found your 8th (?) grade teeny tiny yearbook that you sent me. You commented on everyone’s pictures. Who is cute, who is slutty yet the daughter of a rabbi, who has cool brothers and who’s related to who. It was SO MUCH funny looking at. And you signed everything marty McFly cause you said people used to call you that.

see? awesome pen pal. i mean, slutty rabbis daughters? signing letter ‘Marty McFly? it doesn’t get much better than that!

i miss letters. i miss writing them. i miss the feeling i got when i would sort through the mail and find letters! addressed to me!

my kids are totally going to miss out on this, aren’t they? the writing. the waiting. with email and texting and facebook and myspace and msn messenger and skype and twitter, everything is at their fingertips. why on earth would they send an actual letter? in the time it takes for that little letter to travel through Canada Post, 25 new stories could happen. stories that can easily be told on the computer.

so what, i say! bring back the letter writing!!! if nothing else than to not make me feel old. because i can see Emily with her friends now…”back when my mom was a kid…THEY ACTUALLY WROTE LETTERS! LIKE, WITH PENS! AND REAL PAPER! CAN YOU IMAGINE??!?! AND THEY HAD TO MAIL THEM. IN THE, YOU KNOW, ACTUAL MAIL!!” “wow. your mom is ancient” “i know, right?” “it’s a good thing she’s totally MILFy (right, FADKOG?!) and makes awesome chocolate chip cookies.” le sigh.




ps. S.W.A.L.C.A.K.W.S.

pps. for the non penpal-ers…this means ‘sealed with a lick cuz a kiss wouldn’t stick’

ppps. really…the only person using xo’s these days is gossip girl.

  1. I, too, had many a pen pal. I used to love it. I still write letters to friends, though I seem to be the only one anymore who does. I’m with you — BRING BACK the handwritten note!

    Crists last blog’re welcome.


    Comment by Crist on September 18, 2008
  2. I was an awesome pen pal too! I use to write one of my camp counselors for years. I thought we would get married one day. Nevermind that he was in college when I was in elementary school.

    I still have one pen pal. My Meemaw. I am the only granddaughter and the only one she knows will write back. I get a letter monthly from her.

    Megans last blog post..Our home at home vacation


    Comment by Megan on September 18, 2008
  3. xo


    Comment by Holly on September 18, 2008
  4. Come on over to Europe .. they love the xoxo!


    Comment by Dana on September 18, 2008
  5. Dear fellow MILFy BFF,

    I ‘heart’ letters. They make me swoon! LOL! I have a storage container filled with letters from my friends. Envelopes covered in stickers and P.S.S.s that missed getting put in the actual letter. Um, a stack from a particularly delightful old boyfriend. Yeah. I totally ‘heart’ letters, and wish I got more of there SWAK goodness. I told my boys they should write letters to their cousins for fun. They looked at me like I was insane. Or a dinosaur. “Um, mom? Yeah. We can EMAIL!”


    Comment by differentkindofgirl on September 18, 2008
  6. I loved penpals, too! I actually set The Girl up with same-aged kids of fellow bloggers and the kids very nicely wrote her letters… to which she never responded. SHe still talks lovingly about her penpals, though…
    My Great-Aunt Bessie sends me letters all the time. So I still get them!

    Becks last blog post..Welcome to my WORLD OF TERROR!


    Comment by Beck on September 18, 2008
  7. Actually, MTM sends my daughter mail from my mom. OK, that sounds complicated, let me explain.

    There’s this service called “you’ve got mail” or something, where you sign your kid up and once a month they get a package with stickers, a craft, some colouring pages, etc. My mom got it for her for xmas, but for what she paid, we could do more on our own. So now once a month MTM prepares a package and mails it to our house. My daughter gets the mail, and is excited.

    SciFi Dads last blog post..The Burden Of Knowing


    Comment by SciFi Dad on September 18, 2008
  8. I actually send letters – real handwritten letters – or cards to people fairly often.
    I like getting mail and I like sending it.
    But, for some reason your post really made me want to make chocolate chip cookies.

    LDs last blog post..A Picture Says a Thousand Words


    Comment by LD on September 18, 2008
  9. hand written letters are things of beauty and creativity…xoxo gossip girl….


    Comment by LAVENDULA on September 18, 2008
  10. That is so crazy that you should bring this up today! I spent yesterday going through storage from the tornado that hit us in ’99 and spent most of the day reading a box of letters and cards from the ol’ snail mail days. What a trip! I miss the anticipation and the running to the mailbox everyday just hoping there was a letter in there. This internet crap is promoting too much instant gratification! :p


    Comment by AJ on September 18, 2008
  11. I love your blog!! I just happened upon it one day and I absolutely love it! I used to love writing letters and I completely remember S.W.A.L.C.A.K.W.S. Amazing!

    I’m now living in London, England and EVERYONE here signs emails and texts with xxx and xoxo. It made me laugh at first and took me some time to get used to but I adjusted quickly becuase (a) it makes me feel like I’m young again – which, of course, I am! and (b) when in Rome…



    Comment by Joelle on September 18, 2008
  12. Totally agree. There’s far too much awesome stationary to give up letter writing! I’ll write you!

    Undomestic Divas last blog post..McLovin’ List


    Comment by Undomestic Diva on September 18, 2008
  13. Ha, I totally use xo’s. And I still write letters–it’s the Southerner in me! SVV has a whole box of them from the nearly two years we lived on opposite coasts!


    Comment by Camels & Chocolate on September 18, 2008
  14. Dood, I will so be your pen pal! We’ll bust out the XO’s and compete to see who has the best stationary. Got time to write on paper these days? If so, I’m in.

    Misss last blog post..For a good time call…


    Comment by Miss on September 18, 2008
  15. Hahaha, so funny you would post this. I still have a box of all my high school notes. You know, the ones that were all folded up into interesting little packages with little arrows that say “pull Here” etc.

    I’m still a regular user of XOXOXO, because 2 kisses isn’t enough!


    Comment by Erica on September 18, 2008
  16. I love letters and used to have pen pals too, they were always a lot of fun! Even to this day, I like getting mail just to see, if maybe there’s something like that. I love Christmas with all the cards and letters that arrive, that’s almost the best thing about the holidays! And yes, unfortunately they will miss out. Sometimes technology robs us of things.


    Comment by Dianna on September 18, 2008
  17. Grease!! I also miss letters. I think I got my last real letter 10 years ago when I was in Seminary in Israel. As always, I love your blog!


    Comment by Brie on September 18, 2008
  18. SO not the point of your post, but can I say how much I LOVE Gossip Girl. It’s so wrong and yet so right. I can’t get enough of it.

    (Oh, and I miss actually letters too. Guess Im ancient.)

    nomotherearths last blog post..The Magic of Unicorns and Oxy Deep


    Comment by nomotherearth on September 18, 2008
  19. I love letter writing. It is a dying art these days. I have my kids write actual thank you notes instead of emails or phone calls.

    My mom saved our camp postcards. She would send us to camp with pre-addressed postcards and just wanted us to write something on the postcards a few times a week. We get a kick out of reading stuff like (written in 7 or 8 year old scrawl) “dear mom and dad, we had chicken for dinner.”

    I had a camp pen pal for years. He would sign (yes, he…) his letters in hebrew and enclose chocolate gelt in the envelopes.

    my MIL still signs her cards LYTBAP = love you to bits and pieces!



    Comment by swirl girl on September 18, 2008
  20. Totally had camp pen pals. And when my boyfriend in the 9th grade moved away he would write me a letter every week. I expected them in my mail box on Friday afternoons. It was really a great time.


    Comment by anne on September 18, 2008
  21. I was a great pen pal, too!!! Let’s be pen pals! You send me letters and Smarties, and I send you letters and Anthropologie catalogs!


    Comment by heather... on September 18, 2008
  22. I LOVED having pen pals. The art form seems to be lost…

    Angellas last blog post..I Don’t Need It. I Don’t Need It.


    Comment by Angella on September 18, 2008
  23. Ah yes – I have a few boxes of letters in my MTL home from camp. SWAK and LYLAS will find ways of regenerating themselves. Just the way BFF did. We say it now “She’s totally my BFF”. But it’s interesting to note how things will always change. Your kids kids will one day say “Hey – remember when people had to go to a special station to fill their cars with this liquid called gas!”


    Comment by Janna on September 18, 2008
  24. Oh how I remember the days of the written word. Thanks for the reminder. I too still have letters from those days – although with marriage I had to throw away the love letters.

    Renée aka Mekhismoms last blog post..Do Something


    Comment by Renée aka Mekhismom on September 18, 2008
  25. Ohmahgawd this post triggered a FLOOD of memories for me. I had tons of pen pals – I *loved* sending letters and getting them. I used to get really mad at my cousin for not writing me back in time.

    One of my pen pals just found me on Facebook recently…man, what a trip – it’s not the same anymore, though…I mean, email is fabulous and it is, admittedly, my chosen form of communication…but it’s not the same as a pen pal.


    Comment by mamatulip on September 18, 2008
  26. Whoa! One day soon dear I will scan those letters so we can really sit back and laugh. Sad thing is that I prob still do/say the same thing 15(ish) years later!
    Those were the days my friend…


    Comment by Pnina on September 18, 2008
  27. I still use the xoxo! Remember passing notes at school? I used to know how to fold them so many different ways. It was such an art. WBRS (write back real soon)

    jenboglasss last blog post..Our Weekend and Laundry I Just Don’t Want to Do


    Comment by jenboglass on September 18, 2008
  28. I use xo ALL the time…. I had a pen pal who lived in Norway. I met her at horse back riding camp!!! heh. I remember eating hot dogs with her at lunch! ew! ;)

    Haley-Os last blog post..I Love Earth, and $55 Fara Fawcett Haircut!


    Comment by Haley-O on September 18, 2008
  29. Ooooooh I LOVE letters! I still hunt out stationary and write to friends in thanks, congratulations, etc. Still gives me such a thrill to get letters in the post as well.

    And I 2nd the lovely european way of putting hugs and kisses on everything – a habit I thoroughly embraced.



    Comment by Emily on September 18, 2008
  30. Man, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten a real letter! Years! The last one I wrote (well, typed) was about three years ago and she didn’t write back :(

    I used to be into penpalling and had 100 at one point. It was a lot of work.

    Teena in Torontos last blog post..Book ~ "Down the Coaltown Road" (2002) Sheldon Currie


    Comment by Teena in Toronto on September 18, 2008
  31. I love letters too. One friend and I still send each other packages and letters and cards and stationary – because old well loved habits die hard.


    Comment by jennie on September 18, 2008
  32. I recently got all my old letters back from my parents. They’re fricken’ hilarious. I totally did the SWAK thing etc. yeah, Letters are good, letters are cool. Letters are going bye-bye fast.
    When I would check the mail for letters my Dad would say “Who do you know that can write?” of course he was joking but I totally remember that when I’m looking in my PO for stuff thats not… everything except letters.

    monstergirlees last blog post..Pampas Grass


    Comment by monstergirlee on September 19, 2008
  33. I met a girl in Cancun when I was thirteen. She lived in Chicago and I lived in California. We became pen pals and we STILL send Christmas cards and the occasional email 24 years later.

    We’ve actually only met two other times in our lives. Once I visted her in Chicago when I was in college and she came out to California when I was in grad school.

    Letters are cool. I’ll totally send you one, Marty McFly.

    Matthews last blog post..I’m cheap and now I have moobs


    Comment by Matthew on September 19, 2008

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