A couple of weeks ago, my mother handed me a box filled with old photographs and a stack of letters written by my great grandfather. As she handed me each picture, she explained who was who as she told me stories whenever a certain photograph triggered a memory. I am the oldest, the keeper of family history, and I guess she thought it was time I had these last few bits.
As soon as I could, I went through the box of letters and arranged them in chronological order. I randomly selected a letter and began to read it, and it just so happened it was about my father. My great grandfather wrote a letter to his son—my grandfather—once a month (sometimes more) for twenty years starting in 1958. At least the ones I have anyway.
Throughout my childhood, I remember my father telling me stories about "Pop". How he traveled the country, loved adventure, and wrote a mean letter. I wondered if perhaps this was where my love of writing came from. Now I had some proof.
The first letter is dated March 12, 1958. He wrote about camping in an isolated canyon in the Laguna Mountains. The road in was only dirt, and with an impending storm already pelting the roadway with rain, he knew the narrow access road was not built to withstand heavy rains or mountain wash. "I didn't like the look of things, as the rain was coming steady and heavy, and everything was turning to slimy mud... So I warmed up the engine good and took off up that steep climb in one wild dash, with the car skidding and slating like a happy pup wagging its tail."
What a gift to have been given, not only a piece of my family's history, but a chance to get to know someone I had only remembered meeting once in my life. Someone who shares the same love of words and storytelling.
So this Thanksgiving, once the dishes have been cleared away and the last of the pie has been dished out, I will open up the box and begin to read. I will share as many letters as people want to hear and then savor the rest throughout the season.
I will give thanks for the people at the table, those who are not, and all who have come before us.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
P.S. You may also enjoy...
My Thanksgiving Menu
The Thankful Tree