My grandfather is one of the greatest men I have ever known. He is of that great generation. He is the man I asked to my high school’s father-daughter dance, the man who always had the corny dad jokes, the man who I went to for comfort, and the man I have to thank for the start of my box.
My grandfather wrote, well typed, letters. I can still see his typewriter sitting on the kitchen table, and hear the click of the keys as he typed. As I got older, and moved out of the house I would begin to receive my own letters from him. Opening the mailbox and seeing his handwriting among the bills and junk mail always brought me joy. However, it was not until later in life that I began to understand the full value of those letters.
With a smile I would read his letter, which always had a joke or two and told of everyday happenings around the house. The letter would often end with a doodle and a messy signature. It would eventually join the other letters in an old shoe box where they sat neglected.
Later in life, when I found myself a single mother and feeling very much alone, I would turn to that box often to feel a sense of connection to the outside adult world. The letters brought me such comfort, and filled me with love. It was during this time that I decided to reach out to my own friends and family with letters, and most often short notes written on cards I began collecting. The writing had to be something physical, not a text or an email but something to hold and later put in their own "box".
Soon I found myself looking forward to writing those notes, and began writing at least one a week. I write notes now to friends, family, co-workers, and others who have made my day better or easier. Even my students will each receive a note before the school year ends. I find joy in letting others know what they mean to me, but I find the most joy in knowing that those small pieces of love mean something to others as well.
In a world of emails, texts, tweets, snaps, and the like there is something simple and lovely in sharing a small physical reminder that someone means something to you, or that someone made your day a little better. I love my own box, which has grown in size. Even more than that, I love being able to add to the "boxes" of others. I enjoy knowing that I may have in a small way made someone else smile, and feel connected to a large and somewhat cold world.