Take the time for real connection

The Examiner

Thurs. a.m.


Just thought I’d write quickly between chores.

Jeff Fox

Human beings are funny, aren’t they? We complain about too much Zoom, but where would we have been these many months without it? That said, we all need more communication but we sure don’t need more screen time.

So I’ve been writing some letters and cards. No file to download. No password. No screen glare. Just the joy of a little gift in the mail – a few thoughts and the acknowledgement that someone cared enough to write.

I’m not old enough to remember when the mail came twice a day, but I do remember when long-distance phone calls were expensive and entrusted to adults who would hand you the receiver and say, “Here. Say hi to your grandmother, thank her for the sweater, and wrap it up.”

So people wrote letters. Stamps and paper were affordable. Still are.

I have a cousin two states away who is into family history, as am I. We got together last year and spent a weekend going through boxes of stuff and filling in holes in the stories of the various characters who raised and shaped us.

Remember last year, when you could plan a quick weekend road trip? Hold fast. Those days will come back.

My cousin then sent me an old box of letters, many of them between her mother and my grandmother. Those two were sisters. One was a nurse. One was the valedictorian of her high school class. They had 10 siblings, as well as husbands and kids, and they had much to talk about.

Those letters reminded me how people connected differently. One paragraph is about the weather in Kansas City, the next says a child is home with a cold, and the next says we’ll be there for the weekend by late Friday if a husband gets away from work early and if the roads are clear. It’s the day-to-day of life that we don’t consider worth writing down any more.

The box also had lots of postcards from across America and beyond, little exclamation points in the life of a person, a couple or a family. I don’t know. Maybe our Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines – heaven help us – serve the same purpose. People do like to tweet photos of lunch.

But those posts are dashed off in no time – I mean, look at the punctuation and spelling – and then put out there for the whole world. A letter means gathering your thoughts, putting them on paper, folding it up and all of that other stuff right down to affixing a stamp – a connection from one person to another person. That beats Twitter.

Gotta run. Take care – and stay safe. Do write soon.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net.