I had recently visited Brooklyn (over Christmas) and had dinner with several relatives who live in the area. The death of a couple of my spouse's relatives in November and December, and the serious illness of one of my relatives (whom I visited a couple of days ago), have made me think more and more about keeping in touch.
Recently, in decluttering, my spouse found a CD of letters from the Round Robin, which also brought back this memory:
The idea was to write 24 letters (hard letters, though the mail) during the month of February. Or, at least, mail something.
It was a good idea but I didn't sign up. But it did bring back memories of a letter writing tradition my father's side of the family participated in for a number of years. And why trying to start it up again several years ago just didn't work out.
This project was called The Round Robin. My father, who would be (in 2019) 104 if he was still alive, was one of six children. As adults, they went their separate ways. My Dad and two siblings stayed in the New York City area (they grew up in Brooklyn). One moved to Albany, one moved to Tampa, Florida and one ended up first in Texas and later in Iowa and Illinois. Only one of them, the youngest, is still alive now in 2019.
To stay in touch (as telephoning, even someone in another part of New York City, was so expensive back then), they wrote letters. I don't know who in our family started The Round Robin but the point was: You wrote a letter, put it in a big envelope with everyone else's letter. When the packet got to you, you replaced your old letter with a current letter, and then sent it on. The Robin's route was always the same.
By the time I was a teenager, I had taken over from my Dad. So it was me, writing to five aunts and uncles. I looked forward to getting those letters and I loved responding for my Dad. But each time, the Robin packet would take longer and longer to come. Finally, the Robin stopped. In the meantime, I had grown up and had better things to do. Time passed....lots of time.
Around 2007, I thought it would be a really good idea to start up the Robin again. My Dad and his five brothers/sisters had a total of 12 children between them. (I am an only child.) I contacted my 11 first cousins and almost all of them were eager to join in on Robin 2.0.. The oldest cousins at that point were near 60, the youngest were in their 40's. All of us were of the last letter writing generation. In fact, several of my cousins have never felt comfortable with computers. (Guess I didn't inherit those genes. My spouse thinks my computer is grafted to my body.)
Another cousin, whose grandmother and my grandmother were sisters, joined our Robin group.
The last of my father's siblings, an uncle, wanted to join, too, but...guess what happened. The first packet took a year to make the rounds. The second packet never made it back to me. He never had a chance to write a letter-one that I saw, anyway.
And what about the generation of our children? Between the 12 of us, we have 11 children. Many of them are young adults, including my son. None of them were interested in the Robin.
I have finally decided the Robin is not viable. Not dead, mind you. Just busy sunning him or herself in Florida, or the French Riviera, or somewhere else more pleasant than upstate New York, while most of us keep in touch by email, text, or Facebook.
Know how my last living uncle, who is in his mid 90's as of 2019, communicates with his three children? Skype and email is a large part of it. And I guess that's the point of this blog post.
Yes. Letter writing has died out because....dare I say it? There are now better ways to communicate. Sad but true.
I wish letter writing projects the best, but I wonder how many of those people will still write to each other when February fades into March.
What do you think? Did any of you have a family letter packet like the Round Robin? Do any of you keep in touch with siblings or cousins by snail mail nowadays?
Day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost