Growing up, every Sunday at six o’clock my family gathered around my grandmother’s table. Dinner was usually meatloaf or roast chicken, and there was always enough food should an extra family member (or five) show up. If you sat at my grandmother’s table, you had to be prepared to get teased, to catch if you asked someone for a slice of bread, and to bring your Scrabble “A” game. My grandmother loved capping the night off with board games and dessert, especially if she was winning.
When my husband and I moved away from Baltimore, the first few Sundays that rolled around were really tough. I knew that everyone else was gathered around my grandmother’s table, and being absent from a twenty-one year tradition was odd. I could almost smell the meatloaf in the oven, I could see my grandmother laughing and telling my mom that canned green beans are just as good as frozen, and I could hear my brother declaring a “Bingo” in Scrabble. My husband did his best to comfort me, but even now I feel a tug on Sunday’s, a pull back to Baltimore.
My grandmother quickly replaced the tradition of the weekly meal for me. Instead of gathering around her table each week, I stroll to my mail box and find a card. It is absolutely wonderful to find a real piece of mail, especially one that isn’t a bill! Inside each card my grandmother writes a few lines, tells me about the weather in Baltimore, checks up on the husband, or asks about the dog. Regardless the message, each week I know a little piece of Baltimore is headed my way. She rarely even misses a week when we move.
Now, my grandmother is in no way behind the times. We are friends on Facebook. She has her own cell phone. If I showed her how it worked, my guess is she would be better at Twitter than I am. So, even though she could just type up an e-card and hit send, she chooses to drive down to the post office and mail a card. It might not be the easiest way to keep in touch, but it means so much more to me than an email.
My grandmother has made me truly appreciate the magic of a card. For a few weeks, I leave the card up on our counter or hung on our fridge. In college, I taped them to my wall in rows (my husband said it looked like I was scratching out weeks in prison!). After I run out of room on the counter, I carefully tuck each card into a shoe box. I’ve saved each one.
How do you keep in touch with family when you are far away? Have you figured out new ways to keep traditions going?
photo by potofatticus