Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thank you's and a writer's resolution

Writing this column doesn’t always have its advantages. If I’m being honest, mostly I find myself sitting on the couch with a laptop, a cold cup of coffee, and the drone of the latest cartoon craze in the background. A cracker will fly across the room, hit me in the head and stick in my hair and I have to do my very best to avoid jotting down 650 words about why motherhood and insanity should really be the same, interchangeable word.
But other times, pouring out my feelings on life as we know it feels really good. Especially when I know someone is actually listening.
Every job has its perk. Teachers get summers off, office workers get the occasional free pen. Sunglass salespeople always have the latest and greatest eyewear. Columnists don’t get any of those things.
We get letters.
This past year I have heard from a number of readers, but a few wonderful occasions have really made me smile, and I can’t think of a better way to thank them than to actually put it into words, on actual paper. (You’ll see why later. Keep reading.)
To the man who read about my love for corn and then helped fill my freezer and my belly with the sweetest corn I’ve ever eaten, thank you. I will be grateful throughout the long, cold winter each time I set a bowl of late summer on my family’s dinner table.
To the lady who wrote a lovely hand-written letter (and then a second because she forgot to include something in the first,) thank you. Your kindness touched not only me, but I know it touches the hearts of all of the people to whom you write. I think you also touch their funny bones with your comical cards, all of which I have saved in a neat pile somewhere on my desk, ready to be pulled out when I need a smile.
To the people who sent hand-signed Christmas cards, I couldn’t be happier that the tradition lives on! I wish I could thank each of you personally, but instead I’ll pass on something genuinely perfect that I also received.
A reader emailed me after I whined about the lack of holiday greetings and had a piece of advice to offer. She suggested that people should send hand-written letters more often than just Christmas, but all times of the year and especially to elderly people or people in nursing homes. She added: “Those that may have limited memory or who just like to peruse, touch and yes, even smell (spray a light scent on the card) their mail time and again will so much appreciate a card or a simple note that they can read or share. Just something younger people may not have thought of when they make a phone call and feel that they have done a good thing. A card would be a better and must more lasting thought.”
And we all know she’s right. There is something special about actually holding something that came from someone else’s hands. If you’re holding a newspaper right now, you know what I’m talking about. (If you’re reading this on a screen, stop squinting.)
So it is my New Year’s resolution this year to not only increase the volume of mail going out of my mailbox, but to also listen closely to what others have to say. To my readers, I thank you for your kindness. I wish I could send each of you a separate note, but instead just clip out these words and know that I wish they were hand written, lightly scented with just a hint of freshly cooked corn, full of funny jokes, and most likely cracker crumbs and coffee stains.

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