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My baby wrote me a letter

Raw Sugar, the new coffee shop at the corner of Somerset and Cambridge, has been sockin’ it to me lately with its funky vintage decor straight out of my childhood, and its owner’s brilliant ideas for special events.

letters_0001Last night we went there for a special event called My Baby Wrote Me a Letter. Nadia, the owner, teamed up with Lindsay Orr, the owner of Linden Tree, a new paper store in Westboro, to offer an evening of the dying art of letter-writing. Basically, for $5 they provided stationery, envelopes, pens, stamps and coffee, and everybody sat around at Raw Sugar’s funky kitchen tables drinking coffee with friends and writing letters to other friends.

Isn’t that just the coolest retro thing you ever heard of?

I wrote three letters. The first was to Sadie. She’s my Dad’s wife’s mom, and she’s 93 years old. The second was to my 8-year-old niece Arrow in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. And the third was to two-month-old Connor in San Diego, who would have been my common-law step-grandson if I’d stayed with my son’s father. (Figure that one out. Ha ha.)

If you know any of these people, please don’t tell them I wrote them a letter, because I want it to be a surprise.

I used to be a prolific letter writer back in the day. Throughout my childhood I corresponded regularly with my grandfather. I also had a penpal in Korea; we met through a stamp collecting magazine. My best friend in high school, Astrid Petersen, moved back to Germany when we were 17, and we exchanged hundreds and hundreds of letters over the next few years. I kept all her letters. I wonder if she kept mine?

Aside from last night, I can’t even remember the last real letter I wrote. Email’s so much faster and easier and you don’t have to think about stamps or the handwriting factor. But I really had such a good time writing my letters last night that I might try to build letter-writing back into my life. I especially loved imagining the recipient opening her mailbox and finding a genuine, handwritten letter with her name on it. It’s such a rare treat these days. So rare, in fact, that some children might go through their entire lives and never experience it.

letters_0002You know what else was cool about last night’s event? Celebrity sightings! The first people we saw when we arrived were Nik from Kill Everything and Green Colander. They were writing letters too. They told us that only moments earlier, Jo Stockton had vacated the very same table GC and I had chosen. Later in the evening, we’re pretty sure we saw Michael Bhardwaj trying to buy a cup of coffee. And then, just as we were putting the finishing touches on our letters, we invited three strangers to share our table since the place was full. It turned out that one of them was Sky Pilot’s person. (Don’t you think it’s funny that in a brief conversation with a total stranger, it would come to light that I’m friends with someone who knows her cat?)

26 comments to My baby wrote me a letter

  • Jo

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Celebrity! Ha!

    Anyway. I’m sorry we missed you! I was torn between letter writing and dinner at So Good.


  • Jill

    Hello from Middleton,Nova Scotia! I read your blog often but never comment…until I saw your connection to the Annapolis Valley (Wolfville). Small world!

  • deb

    I never realised how special hand written letters were until Mom brought me a package with all the letters that I had written to her and Opa when I moved to Toronto. To be honest, I barely remember writing them, but it was very emotional to read them now (25-30 years later). I hope that they brought as much pleasure to the people that I sent them to as they did coming back to me after all these years. Like you, I think that letter writing is a lost art and have started sending hand written notes to people in the past couple of years…more for business, but also for my own pleasure.

  • Jo, we almost went to So Good for dinner right after writing letters! But we went to New Pho Bo Go La instead. And don’t kid yourself about not being a celebrity – I have your autograph!

    Jill, I love it when lurkers step out of the shadows and say hi. Welcome to my blog. My connection to Nova Scotia runs pretty deep actually – I used to go out there for a month every year, camping and scrounging for treasures in all the antique stores. I fell in love with a little yellow house in Maitland once, and almost bought it. I wish I had. I LOVE Nova Scotia – the place and the people.

  • Deb, Mom gave me a bundle of my old letters last year too, but warned me that mine were ‘difficult,’ so I haven’t opened the package yet. I’m scared!

  • deb

    Don’t be scared…it is an amazing journey actually. Some of the ones from her I wouldn’t have appreciated as much then, as I do now, but are amusing as well as “way off the mark”….sorry Mom. But it was more fun reading my own letters…go ahead…open it.

  • My best friend and I have been writing letter since we were 12 (we are 30 now) It started when I moved to another city and neither of us could drive (and email wasn’t around) and we’ve just kept it up. There was a time when we lived in the same city (for a period of three or so years) – a fifteen minute bus ride plus 10 minute walk away, but we still worte letters. Now she lives about 40 minutes away, but still we write. I love picking out special stationery and stickers (to decorate teh envelopes) just for her. I have ALL the letters she sent, and she’s kept mine. It’s somethign I hope we do till we die.

  • Coming out of lurkdom to say: What a fantastic idea! I love that. It’s so nice to get a letter in the mail — usually get bills and adverts and other annoying things (well, unless I’ve been bad and ordered too many books from Chapters online, then it’s dee-lightful … ;). It’s a day-brightener for sure to get a card or letter in the mail.

  • future landfill

    Before I finished reading your story I went and found a card and envelope I picked out in Oxford last month and put it just here. I’ll write a note to the wonderful aunt who made my gal and me so welcome for a week in Boulder Colo. in October. I’d thought about doing that this morning but had forgotten. Thanks Zoom!

  • About three years ago, my new year’s resolution was to write one real letter per month. It was so fun! I drew little crayon pictures in my letters to illustrate them and decorated the envelopes with stamps and stickers. I wrote to a mix of people I saw every day to people I hadn’t talked to in years. Everyone was delighted. I should totally do that again!

  • parasol

    Celebrity sitings indeed! When Greencolander pointed out who you were, I was too starstruck to say hello.

    So, here’s a belated hello!

  • Kat

    This sounds like a great event! I too kept many of the letters that I received – glad to know that I’m not the only one. Question is, when is it ok to toss them?

  • Valerie, that’s interesting that you’ve kept the tradition up even when you’ve lived close to each other. Your letters to each other, spanning your lives since you were twelve, could almost be like journals – only she’s got yours and you’ve got hers.

    Olivia, welcome! I just took a quick peek at your blog – it’s unique. I’m going to look more later.

    Future Landfill, that’s another thing – the dying art of thank-you notes.

    Lynn, that’s one thing real letters have over email: you can draw on them and tuck pictures and things into the envelopes.

    Parasol, you were there too?? I would have loved to have met you! (Were you sitting with Nik and Greencolander?)

    Kat, see that’s the thing. I don’t think you can ever toss them. Especially if you’ve kept them for decades. (More organized people than myself would surely disagree.) Personally, I’d like to send all Astrid’s letters back to her, because I think she’d get more out of re-reading them now than I would. But I don’t know where she is anymore.

  • Tom Sawyer

    Okay, all the talk of letter writing is fine & dandy. But who had the glass of beer in the photo–and where’d it come from?

  • Oh, that would be mine. They sell Beau’s beer at this coffee shop too.

  • What a fantastic idea. I’m going to move over to my calendar now and schedule a letter writing party. What if everyone brought some stationary to share (a letter-writing potluck) and a drink and a nibble, and we wrote letters? I love that. Thanks.

  • Rachael, you just put the icing on the cupcake. A letter-writing potluck is a brilliant idea! I wish I lived a thousand miles or so closer to you.

  • grace

    I send each of my eight siblings a birthday card every year and have so much fun finding something special to suit each one. I also try to write a small note; nothing elaborate but I hope they realize how dear they are to me.

    I with I lived closer to Rachael too! Waving madly to keep warm . . .

  • Bonnie Bartlett

    I periodically send a letter to someone…a niece, a friend because I know how much I love getting a hand-written letter in the mail rather than just the usual bills and junk mail. I think the letter-writing potluck Rachael suggested is brilliant!

  • Oma

    I think I may host one too … great ideas … thank you.

  • I wish I could have been there. What a cool idea!

  • Wendy – Oh my god, look at your site! It’s a letter-writer’s fantasy!

  • Ellen

    I still have the letters my husband wrote to me when we were dating in the 1970’s. He was on a school schedule where he worked one quarter in Washington DC and then had one quarter of classes. I was working in Alabama, and back then (“back in the day…”) long distance phone calls were very expensive so we wrote frequent letters to each other. It was sweet.

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