Archive for February, 2010

Dear Grandparents

February 11, 2010

Dear Grandparents,

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I’ve heard it all my life. As a young child, I saw only absurdity in such a statement. As a young woman, experiencing lost love; bittersweet was the taste of absence. Now, as a grandmother with grandchildren miles away, I find the cliché to be simply untrue. Quite frankly, absence rips your heart out when you drive off into the sunset— with fading images of grandchildren waving in your rearview mirror. My heart could not be any fonder.

“Stop whining,” you say. Yes, I have learned to deal with absence. And yes, I continue to make the best of my sad affairs, living so many miles away from my grandchildren. But, emerging from this awful distance is a new avocation—a peculiar habit. I write letters to my grandchildren—the good old-fashioned kind.

Writing letters is not meant to replace other forms of casual communication. It is a form of connection that is seeded in the very core of tradition: It is truly old-fashioned stuff. It is a way of not only connecting to your reader, but giving the reader insight into your “head and your heart,” as Thomas Jefferson would say.

Charmingly traditional and truly a lost art, a letter can be held in the hand, folded into special shapes that fit into special drawers or notebooks; it can be tucked away, only to be retrieved and visited again and again. A letter reflects the attitude and temperament of the writer. It reveals volumes about the writer’s sentiments, values, and logic. If eyes are the window to one’s soul, a letter is the door to one’s heart.

I found some old family letters dating back to the 1800s, and now, when faces stare back at me from dusty, old albums, I look at them and I connect my ancestors to the letter. And, I know these people. I feel like I know their head and their heart thanks to their letters.

Because of the very nature of letter writing— the process of penmanship (keyboarding), self-editing, and even slogging down to the post office—it is understood that correspondence necessitates effort, even to a young child. I wonder if this is the reason that children express gratitude, appreciation, and a feeling of importance upon receiving a letter. I think a child senses that a letter is specific … for him.

Whenever a child begins correspondence, he becomes a participant in the give and take of a relationship. He learns to be patient and thoughtful, and he learns the value of camaraderie. Once a child is integrated into a writing relationship, he learns to be generous with his heart and his mind.

For this reason, I am urging grandparents, and even aunts and uncles, and yes, all of you, to bring back this old tradition of writing letters. How wonderful it would be if children had a relative who wrote to them regularly because the child could learn so much from the writer. Letters can be models for writing techniques and examples and of how to write with one’s own voice.

Children would also gain emotionally from corresponding with a caring, loving grandparent (or elder) who shares their life in letters. Correspondence helps children gain confidence because they get a chance to practice writing skills in a safe venue. They are not being graded, so they become more creative. And then, they are motivated to transfer the use of these skills to school work. Most of all, children feel important when someone loves them and cares enough to send them letters. Corresponding with children means that adults, too, will hone the core values of give and take, and also enjoy the benefits of bonding in a unique and endearing manner. My experience is that writing letters to my grandchildren is good for my soul, and it is even better for my fond heart.

So, Grandparents (and aunts and uncles), here’s a good idea: If your grandchildren live far away, dig into your supply of colored pencils, pens, and stationery. Begin an epistolary relationship with your grandchildren. Your fond heart will beat with delight, and the misfortune of absence will begin to fade away into the sunset.

Yours truly,

Curly Grandma

Who is Curly Grandma? She is a real grandmother. When her first grandchild, Megan was around two-years-old, Megan was trying to distinguish between her two grandmothers. Mommy tried to help out by saying something like, “…Grandma with the curly hair…” Well, that solved the problem for Megan; Curly Grandma was the name.  Six more grandchildren came along, and they all call her “Curly Grandma.”

Visit Curly Grandma at her website www.curlygrandma.com and learn all about writing letters to grandchildren. On her site, get lots of information and free stationery. And you can even buy her book Curly Grandma’s Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography (Tate Publishing; available on Amazon.com). This blog and illustrations are not to be copied or reproduced without permission from Anita Bryce.

Letter to my grandchild: Footprints on my heart

February 7, 2010

Letter to my granddaughter:

Dearest Beloved, 8-10-01

Hello! HELLO! I miss you!
I do so miss you!
You have been in my thoughts, almost as persistent as a child at a mother’s skirt! You seem to follow me throughout my daily routines. I suppose that is what happens to one who has moved away. I can only guess I have buyer’s remorse. (Mommy can explain that to you better.)

Now, I think I’ll share a thought with you.
I will tell you a story about a Grandmother’s very special experience. This story will relate to you just how important the tiniest little things in life can affect one’s heart and soul (if one is a sentimental old grandmother). You see, Beloved, you will find that you have been going through life, living your life and just doing your everyday things, and yet, Beloved, you have not even been aware that each of your little movements has been devotedly recorded on your grandmother’s heart.

Most stories begin with “Once upon a time”. However, this begins in a different manner, like this:

Sometime ago, approximately two and a half years ago, there was a little granddaughter who came over to visit me … I mean to visit her grandmother. She had a wonderful time. She played with some little toys that once belonged to her mommy. She played cards (I believe it might have been OLD MAID and GO FISH. She played some kind of checkers, or perhaps it was Tic-Tac-Toe. She made cookies with her grandmother. She even enjoyed eating peanut-butter-and-jelly and cereal for breakfast, lunch, and supper. I believe she may even have gone grocery shopping with her grandmother beforehand to pick out the cereal and the jelly. Then, evening fell. Well, after a full day of playing, the granddaughter was certainly ready for a bath. So, as the grandmother drew the water, the granddaughter stepped into the tub ….

We must stop here for just a moment. You see, you must understand that this house of grandmother’s was 28 years old. So, many things in the house were very old. Most specifically, the tub was this old. Well, in order to keep such an old tub clean, one must scour it (which means to scrub). When one scours a tub, the tub becomes very porous, that means it will soak up anything that gets on it. So, if you touch a freshly scoured tub with mud or grease, the mud or grease will soak into the tub and stain it. Now, we can return to our story.

Now, the granddaughter’s feet were quite greasy and dirty from running around barefoot all day long, because as you know grandmothers don’t make granddaughters wear shoes if they don’t want to. As the granddaughter stepped into the tub, her little 4-year-old foot left the most perfect footprint in the tub. The print of the toes was perfect. The print was a perfect picture of a perfect foot.

The granddaughter didn’t even notice the footprint. But, the grandmother saw the footprint at that very moment. It was as if she felt the footprint press right down on her own heart. You would think she would clean it up immediately. But, no, she fell in love with that silly little footprint and secretly, she hoped it would never go away, even after a good cleaning. Do you know that it never went away, even after 100 cleanings!

Very often, the grandmother would look into that tub and remember that wonderful visit from her granddaughter. That footprint looked just like a footprint to everybody else, but it was a reminder of a very special day for the grandmother.

Well, after a few more years, it was time for the grandmother to sell her house. She cleaned the house from top to bottom, spotlessly. And, she even cleaned the tub. But still, the footprint stubbornly remained. When the house was sold, and the grandmother drove away from her house for the last time, there was only one very special thing she could not take with her. She could not take her granddaughter’s footprint with her, and that made her so very sad. As she was driving away, a tear fell on her cheeks. But feeling sad was not something this grandmother liked. So, she had an idea. She went through all her pictures of her granddaughter, and she found a shirt that she was wearing on the day the granddaughter was born. And, do you know that shirt had a newborn footprint of the granddaughter when she was just born? It even had a date on it. It was 4-24-94.

Well, Beloved, as I was saying at the beginning of this letter, we may not know it, but even the smallest of things we do will leave footprints on someone’s heart. So, let’s continue to tread lightly throughout our life, and let’s leave the softest of footprints wherever we might go. For surely, someone, somewhere, will feel each step.

I must go now, and get busy on my laundry. For it doesn’t go away, no matter how much I ignore it. I shall write again soon, when my laundry is done and my belly is full of peanut-butter sandwiches, and I have had many days to catch up on STUFF.

I Love you, and I am thinking of you always,

Curly Grandma

Who is Curly Grandma? She is a real grandma with seven grandchildren.  Her name came from her first grandchild, Megan, who learned to distinguish her two grannies with “adjectives”. Visit Curly Grandma at her website www.curlygrandma.com and learn all about writing letters to grandchildren. You can even buy her book Curly Grandma’s Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography (Tate Publishing) on her site. This blog and illustration may not be copied or reproduced without permission from Anita Bryce.

Letter to my grandchild; just when I thought I had nothing to write about

February 6, 2010

Letter to my granddaughter:

Dearest Beloved, 9-1-06 (the longest day of my life)

It seems like a very long time since last I saw you. My goodness, how it seems so long ago that I saw you. How old were you then? Are you married yet?

I surely do wish I had something great to tell you. I so wish that I weren’t always work— work—working. I tell you it is a lonely hard job…this writing stuff.

You can’t imagine how it is to be typing on my computer. It goes something like this:
I sit at the computer and stare into the screen.
I move around to make sure my posture is pretty good.
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I take my fingers off of the keys because my neck hurts.
I rub my neck.
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I take my fingers off of the keys so I can scoot my chair up a little, not too much, though.
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I stare into the monitor.
I look around the room.
I look at the keys.
I take my fingers off of the keys so I can scoot my chair back a little, not too much though.
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I stare into the monitor.
I look at my printer, my mouse (I love this mouse. I wish it were a real mouse, HEY! I wish my monitor were a real Moniter lizard!), but …probably…they’re not.
I look at my pencils.
I sharpen one pencil.
I test it.
I sharpen it again.
My pencil breaks. I wish my real mouse were here to chew on my pencils. That would keep them sharp, and then I wouldn’t have to spend so much time sharpening them.
I sharpen another pencil.
I test it.
It breaks.
I sharpen it again. I can’t believe how much I have sharpened today.
I wish my Moniter Lizard would chew my pencils nice and sharp for me so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time sharpening them. Gosh, it’s not like I have nothing to do!
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I stare into my monitor, not the Moniter Lizard. He’s goofing off, as always. I can’t get that guy to show up. Just sharpen my pencils. That’s all I ask. But NOOO. He has to go off and eat small mammals. He has to go out and bask in the sun. That lazy, good for nothing lizard! He may as well be a Geico, or gecko, or whatever that lazy thing on TV is.
I type… I.
I take my fingers off the keys because my neck hurts. Nobody knows how hard this job is. Nobody even cares. I just sit at this darned typewriter all day long, slaving over these letters, and NOBODY, NOBODY even notices.
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I delete…I.
I look at my scanner.
I look at my pencils.
I look at my mouse. I realize that if this were a real mouse, he would probably eat not only my pencils, but also my papers. This worries me.
I take my fingers off the keys.
I open my desk drawer to make sure my papers are in the drawer nice and neat…and safe.
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I now remember that a mouse will eat pencils, paper, plastic and everything on this planet. Nothing is safe from a mouse. He can chew himself out of any trap. ANY TRAP! ANY TRAP MADE OUT OF ANYTHING! What am I doing with a creature like that on my desk? I must be crazy! I can’t believe I have to have a threatening creature like that on my desk, driving me absolutely mad! How can I think? How can I get any work done with a dreadful creature lurking about in my office, just waiting to pounce on me when I least expect it? Doesn’t anybody care about what I have to go through? Doesn’t anybody even care that I have to sit here at this desk, day in and day out, slaving over this computer, trying my best to pump out a BOOK!
I hate this mouse!
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I stare at the monitor, but not the lizard, the monitor.
I type… I…
I realize that my neck is hurting so bad that I need to go take some Tylenol. I have to eat something with it: Can’t take Tylenol on an empty stomach.
I delete…I…
I get up and go into the kitchen. It’s a good thing I work at home so I can get something to eat when I have to take a Tylenol. I fix a toasted bagel with peanut butter and jelly. I fix a glass of milk. I eat it and look out the window. I see the bird feeder. I go out and restock the bird feed, the hummingbird feed, and the cat food. I remember those hungry creatures in my office and I look around for something to take to them. I just darned sure can’t get any work done with those hungry creatures staring at me and my stuff. These chocolate covered graham crackers will do just fine. I bring along a glass of milk…just in case…
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I stare at the monitor, not the lizard.
I stare at the mouse.
I stare at the scanner.
The scanner. The scanner is an awesome thing. It can probably scan radioactive waves into my brain…and alter my thoughts. It can probably change my personality and people wouldn’t even know why I’m acting differently. THE SCANNER! Why didn’t I notice that thing before…How it just sits there…looking so …simple. Why didn’t I notice how dangerous this scanner is? I have been hornswoggled! I have been duped! I have been a victim of this scanner for a long time and nobody even knew it…not even me! Oh why doesn’t anybody even care about what I have to go through to write this book?
I think about how I could scan a newly sharpened pencil in my scanner and how it would look really cool on a page in my book.
I look at the scanner.
I look at the pencil.
I look at the scanner.
I look at the mouse.
I look at the monitor, not the lizard.
I stretch my neck.
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I realize that writing is an exhausting job.
I take my fingers off the keys.
I eat my chocolate covered graham crackers. because that darned monitor, not the computer, and that darned mouse just ain’t gonna eat this stuff.
I drink my milk.
I now understand why I can’t write.
I have been too selfish.
All I think about is me.
I realize I have to think about others.
I realize I have to think about other creatures and animals and just others in this world.
I go out and look at the birds.
I appreciate these little animals.
I know deep down inside my heart that being a little bird is a hard life.
I put some extra bird seed in the bird feeder.
I put some extra hummingbird feed in the hummingbird feeder.
I put some extra cat food in the cat dish.
I make another toasted bagel with peanut butter and jelly.
I pour another glass of milk.
I eat them because I wouldn’t want to go back into my office and get hungry, just when I start typing really good stuff.
I take some extra chocolate covered graham crackers…and milk…for…well…just in case…of something.
I feel good.
I sit down at my desk and I feel good. Really good. I know deep down in my heart that I am going to finish this book because I am capable of thinking of others in this world. And God rewards those who think of others.
I place my fingers over the correct keys.
I stare at the monitor, not the lizard.
I type…You…

It might be a long, long time before this book gets done.

Love, and thinking of you in between every peanut butter and jelly bagel,
Curly Grandma

Who is Curly Grandma? She is a real grandma with seven grandchildren.  Her name came from her first grandchild, Megan, who learned to distinguish her two grannies with “adjectives”. Visit Curly Grandma at her website www.curlygrandma.com and learn all about writing letters to grandchildren. You can even buy her book Curly Grandma’s Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography (Tate Publishing). This blog may not be copied or reproduced without permission from Anita Bryce.

Hello world!

February 4, 2010

Dear Grandparents,

Isn’t it grand? Having grandkids!

I truly bask in the pleasure of seeing and holding the offspring of my own babies. Seven of them! Each one different from the rest. Yet, each one so like the rest in many ways. And, all of them a gift from God.

Here’s an idea. Stay connected to your grands by writing letters. Stay in touch  by sending your love in old-fashioned envelopes. Type it. Handwrite it. Pencil it or scribe your letter in brilliant colors of ink. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just write. Enclose little jewels like coins or gum or stickers. Decorate your letters and envelopes. You can even perfume it just like they did in the old days. But, try correspondence for a unique bonding experience. Bring back the lost art of writing letters, and both you and your grandchild will be the richer.

Well, not only do I enjoy writing to my grandkids, I also enjoy writing about them. So much of what I experience as a grandparent is exactly what you might be going through. And, I like to write about it because you might read some of my posts and say, “Oh, yeah. I know what Curly Grandma means.” Or maybe you’ll read one of my entries and say, “I’m glad I’m not the only one.” Or maybe you might even say, “Hmm. I think I’ll remember that.”

If you enjoy even one of my posts, I am indebted to your attention and grateful that you thought it worthy of your time. So, I’ll thank you now for your interest.

Well, fellow Grandparents, from the grand side of grandparenting, I bid you hello!

Curly Grandma

Who is Curly Grandma? She is a real grandma with seven grandchildren.  Her name comes from her first grandchild, Megan, who learned to distinguish her two grannies with adjectives (hence the Curly). Visit Curly Grandma at her website www.curlygrandma.com and learn all about writing letters to grandchildren. On her site, get lots of information and free stationery. And you can even buy her book Curly Grandma’s Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography (Tate Publishing; available on Amazon.com). This blog and illustrations are not to be copied or reproduced without permission from Anita Bryce.