My love of letters began when I was just a kid, and it was mainly through my Mum's influence. She grew up in Adelaide, but we lived in Geelong - about 700kms away. The way she used to keep in touch with her Mum, my Nana, was to write letters back and forth. A pretty commonplace thing in those days. But I remember how much my Mum enjoyed those letters. They weren't written on fancy paper, just that tissue-thin lined notepad paper, and Mum wrote back on the same paper. They weren't great works of literary merit. Nana would write about what her and Grandpa had been doing, and how Mum's four sisters and two brothers, and all their families, were going. Pretty pedestrian stuff... yet it formed a strong tie between my Mum and my Nana which was very important, as Mum only got to see Nana about once every couple of years.
I also remember that I fell in love with my Mum's card scrapbooks. As a little girl, she had cut out and kept all the cards she received for birthdays and Christmas and Easter, and put them in a scrapbook. The cards seemed so much more impressive than the ones we have now. There was almost always some texture or applique, like a feather, or glitter, or velvet. I would go through them and just touch everything. But what I also remember from those scrapbooks is the handwriting in the cards. Nobody wrote very much - it was all simple stuff, but full of warmth - yet the writing was beautiful. I know that it's because of the kind of schooling those people had. They all learnt this kind of "copperplate" cursive script. And I guess in a time before computers, it was important that everyone's handwriting was pretty uniform, because so much more would be written by hand. But the uniformity was just so impressive - and beautiful.
I can't remember at what I age I first began corresponding, but I would have been single digits, probably about seven or eight because I remember my Mum had to teach me how to address an envelope and where to put the stamp. I wrote back and forth with my cousin Jackie, who also lived in Adelaide. I was fortunate in that the person I'd chosen to write to was happy to write back, and we kept it up for many years - well into high school. And by then I was hooked. Through a high school program, I gained a penfriend in Korea, and then another in the UK and, apart from the odd hiatus, I have pretty much been writing letters ever since.
I was very industrious this week, and wrote four letters - Smithy, Danielle, Trudy and Sarah. Danielle and Trudy are old friends who said they'd really like a letter, so fingers-crossed they write back and both become regular correspondents.
Who have you written to lately?