September 8 11

It’s funny how quick we are to tell people about all the things we can’t do; about all the things that we are just embarrassingly bad at doing.

I can’t dance to save my life. I am completely tone deaf. I am missing the hang-up-your-clothing gene and every item winds up on the floor in the exact spot that I removed it. I am helplessly addicted to buying cardigans. I find html confusing. I am the worst ironer in the free world. I do not posses the willpower to turn down a cupcake. I am a terrible exerciser. I am impatient whilst driving through traffic. I can’t sew. I never call anyone.

You see? EASY.

It’s a lot harder to admit to actually being good at something. I’m a good cook. I can play the piano. I am a fairly decent photographer (getting better every day…now I just need to learn to master the dreaded shutter speed. We are totally in a fight, shutter speeds and I.)

And then, you guys, here’s one that really upsets me, mostly because it’s a talent that goes to waste because it has essentially become obsolete.

“I’m a terrific penpal. Hopelessly devoted to each and every one.”

This past week, I was reminded of this hidden talent. When I stopped at the mailbox to collect all of the ever-so-exciting bills and flyers and catalogues that I no longer need to read because of that whole internet thing, hidden there, betwixt a Jerusalem Post and an ad for a local real estate agent, was a postcard. Adressed to me. Hand-written. With lots of emoticons and xoxos all over it. “We miss you Mama!” “We wish you were here!” “Sending kisses from New Brunswick!”

Hand-written, you guys.

I miss writing with an actual pen.

You guys. Seriously. I was the best pen pal. I could should have bought stock in stationary stores and stamps. I had the prettiest paper and stickers and the coolest new stamps around. I used ridiculous phrases like SWAK and LYLAS. Camp friends. Vacation friends. Out-of-town friends. And I *might* just have had some from the pen pal section at the back of BOP magazine, but at this point in time, I am not willing to confirm nor deny this fact. I used to run, nay race, to the mailbox to check for new letters in brightly-colored envelopes. I used to wish and hope and pray for new words to devour, new pictures to hang up on my bulletin board.

Now I never visit my mailbox, unless I am certain it’s too overstuffed for my mail carrier to shove anything else in there.

Thanks, Al Gore, for inventing the internet. Now I no longer need to write letters because I can text, GChat, Facebook, Tweet and Skype my friends whenever I feel like it. Is it too late for us? Is it too late for our kids? Will they EVER send letters to each other? Will they ever know that feeling of anticipation when opening up the mailbox? I hope they do. It’s a good feeling.



ps. S.W.A.L.C.A.K.W.S.


  1. I have a 7 year old that would love a pen pal…

    Comment by Misty on September 8, 2011
  2. I had no idea you were a good cook! You let us believe that your husband cooks. Yay Ali!

    I was an avid letter writer as well. My friend moved away in Grade 3. Thanks to my letters (and her responses) we have stayed friends for, oh, 25 years. She and her husband and babies came to our wedding this summer. They drove a long, long way with babies. It was worth the letters.

    Comment by Heather on September 8, 2011
  3. I never had a pen pal, but we used to have notebooks that we traded with each other in school, and then used to pass notes. My one friend kept all the ones I sent her and they are HILARIOUS to read!

    I have the very worst handwriting in the world.

    Also, Ali makes really awesome grilled cheese and homemade cheese sauce for mac and cheese.

    Comment by Kristabella on September 8, 2011
  4. Kids still like to get mail with their names on it. My 10-year-old still writes to her BFF. (She only lives on the other end of the city.)

    Comment by Tamara on September 8, 2011
  5. I used to write letters to my high school boyfriend (he lived over an hour away) and to friends during and after college. I’ll sometimes send a card in the mail but I need to do that more.

    Comment by Angella on September 8, 2011
  6. “It’s a lot harder to admit to actually being good at something.”

    YES. And why is that, exactly? I’m not sure, but it’s interesting (and sometimes quite puzzling and counter-productive) how much our society tends to value self-deprecation.

    As for letters, I love that you were (and could still be!) an amazing pen pal. I can totally see you doing that.

    I had a pen pal from England once upon a time and it was so fun writing to her, practicing my penmanship and hearing about her life as I shared my life with her. My grandmother (my dad’s mom) still writes me letters and I cherish every single one.

    Comment by Kerri Anne on September 8, 2011

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