Paris Goodnight: Putting pen to paper for that darling daughter

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 23, 2022

My daughter convinced me not long ago that it was time to start writing her letters instead of just keeping up via text or email. So I’ve tried to keep up my end of the bargain and occasionally fill her in on what’s going on around town with old fashioned snail mail delivering her the latest by pen and paper.

It’s not as fast as electronic communications, but I tend to enjoy writing to her that way more and I certainly enjoy it more when I get a real letter back.

I don’t know how many other people keep updated this way, but it hearkens back to a time when a postcard or letter delivered by hand of the carrier was as good as anything you could get to brighten your day. Think of how many soldiers around the world waited patiently for their name to be called and then to find a letter with their name on it, particularly if it came from a young woman back home. I had a buddy send me some writings with details from postcards his aunt had kept stashed away for years, with many of them being from men overseas trying to prod her into writing back to them as they provided the brief details of what life away from home was like for them. If she ever did, which we will never know, when such a letter made it to their hands, I imagine it was better to them than silver or gold.

That’s the other thing about a written letter, you can stash it away for the future — either yours, or maybe grandchildren down the line to read what was going on in your life at a certain time. I have other scribbles written down in the form of diary or journal entries that might not be fit for anyone else’s consumption, but my mother got me started on that path many years ago and though I’ve broken off the habit a time or two over the years, I always seem to pick it back up at some point. I don’t know that it’s the writer in me as much has the creature of habit that I’ve become.

Written thank you notes were another task my mother always required. I haven’t kept that streak up as much, but I know I always appreciate it if one of those arrives in the mail.

This week I decided to kill two birds with one stone — writing a letter to my daughter telling her I was writing about her in the Post, then writing here a similar tale about what I had sent her. We’ll see if both audiences can appreciate the other’s reading material.

The one thing I haven’t come up with is the perfect stationery to use. I have even resorted to using the back of what we print out as a page proof to read over one last time before the Post is printed, just to try to catch one more mistake. If you’ve seen the occasional typo or two show up in print, you can only imagine how many others get caught on that last glance and are corrected just before deadline to ship the pages.

My daughter has grown up and moved away to work as a project manager out there in the real world. But I reminded her of the first, and most important, job she ever had. And that was, of course, to make daddy laugh. If I didn’t tell her often enough over the years after putting that requirement on her as a wee little child, she was very good at it. In fact, if she’s half as good at her current duties, she will be an extremely valuable employee for her company.

I like to think that if she moves up the ranks in her company or finds success at what she’s doing it might be because of that early training she got in her first job and making sure she fulfilled her duties early and often, just as she was supposed to do.

So maybe this might prompt you to break out a pen and paper to write a letter to someone you haven’t corresponded with in awhile. If so, it will likely be a case of doing as I say, not as I do, because except for that one darling daughter, I can’t imagine I’ll be turning to the pen to check in with many other folks when the simple click, click of a few buttons is right there.

But who knows, maybe my daughter’s prompting will spread further than even she thought it would.

Paris Goodnight is editor of the Post.