These are difficult days, with the Covid-19 pandemic in bloom, but I wanted to share one personal anecdote about staying close in the time of this virus.
A friend of mine is in a “vulnerable demographic” here in New York—older and with a pre-existing pulmonary condition. He made the hard decision to cease seeing his son and his family (including a beloved grandchild) until this storm had passed, most likely several months down the road. His only grandchild is young and while embracing video chats and phone calls, this sort of interaction is lacking. As we corresponded about this predicament, I was reminded of a series of books that have become a favorite of mine the “letters to my” collection.
I first became familiar with the series while browsing in the Paper Source store in Rockefeller Center. Over the last year, I picked up “Letters to my Baby,” for expectant Mom friends, as well as “Letters to my Friend” and “Letters for a Year of Gratitude.” These books are paper-based time capsules that allow a person to write heart felt letters for opening at a later date.
In my last real outing in Manhattan, days ago, I stopped by my Paper Source store to see if there was a similar book for grandparents to write to grandchildren. I thought my friend could start gathering thoughts for his toddler granddaughter. I was happy top see that the volume existed! Here are some of the entries that allow inter-generational story telling include questions like the following: Here’s a special story about our family…; It may surprise you to learn that when I was young…; When your mother/father was young…; I’m curious to see how you…; When I was younger, I wish had known…
There are cute little books and not expensive (I think the grandparent edition was about $15) and this idea could easily be replicated in many ways, with just a little bit of crafting and organizing. For those who are looking for an even more ambitious project for the quarantine, a family history might be in order. But that’s an idea for another day.
p.s. the photo is my sister Kathryn and our paternal grandfather, known as Pee-Paw.