Saturday, December 06, 2014


Today's writing prompt on Holidailies concerns "World Letter Writing Day" which is tomorrow. The prompt is: "When is the last time you sent (or received) a letter? Write a letter (to anyone or anything you want) and share it with us."

That had me thinking about the early days of ebay, my sister who had a catastrophic health problem around that time and my efforts to entertain her with letters.

Today is my sister's 71st birthday. Shortly after her her 55th birthday she collapsed at her home in Denver from a ruptured aneurysm in her brain, a hemorrhagic stroke. For weeks, she struggled to survive. They repaired the aneurysm and attempted to stop several subsequent ischemic strokes caused by swelling. She survived and learned to walk again although she never regained all the strength and mobility on her right side.

My sister was in rehab hospitals for many months and then home struggling to come back for many more. I was far away. She lived in Denver. I forbade my parents from going to Colorado in the winter so I didn't go either. In March I finally took them to see her.

As my sister progressed I sent lots of get well messages and then, at some point, wanted her to have mail from me that would distract her from her struggles and encourage her to come back to things she loved.

I had discovered the wonders of ebay. I sold a few things, I bought a few things but mostly I was utterly fascinated with the stuff on offer. I would snip out pictures of things for sale. I began in 1999 using these stolen pictures to write letters to my sister illustrated with ebay items (and a few collectibles I owned) and talking about our childhoods or certain categories of collectibles.

My sister loved these letters. She'd always been a fan of junk stores and garage sale and she had a lot of collections, especially of miniatures but of other things, too.

One letter was about Christmas collectibles. The German card above was one of the illustrations.   I loved the way it was written on all around the illustration. Here is another snippet from that letter

I would also close by asking her to write to me. (She was struggling to write again because of the weakness on her right side.) I would tell her that if she wrote to me, I'd construct another one of these letters that was essentially a looking glass into ebay. I think she collected all the letters in a notebook. She may still have them as a matter of fact. I found the word doc for this one among computer files I'd transferred over and over from machine to machine.

Which brings me to my current letter writing. They are more notes than letters, but this year, instead of printing up a bunch of holiday cards and mailing them to a hundred or so people, I am making a card or getting a card and replying to each card I receive with a short personal note. I'll respond to what the person wrote on their card or mention how lovely the children are in the picture. One person sent a MOMA card of a Matisse stained glass window. I mentioned that we saw the recent Matisse show at MOMA. On some of these cards I'm using Forever Stamps (or scans of them) to decorate them. For example,
In some cases, I've used the stamp on the envelope that my correspondent sent me to decorate the one I send. I'm thinking that these cards may surprise the recipients who realize we are suddenly having a correspondence instead of exchanging cards. It's made the holiday card thing fun again for me but as the cards flow in I may not have the stamina for it! Still I do love hand-written letters. Or notes. And remember tomorrow isn't just Pearl Harbor Day but World Letter Writing day.

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