When I got an e-mail from Amazon.com informing me that I could be entered into a contest for new kitchen appliances just by going to their website and adding something to my “wish list” I had a difficult time deciding just what would go onto that list. My mind sifted through dozens of possibilities very swiftly, from the affordable (a nice jacket to go with my plain blue shift, a pair of comfortable and stylish boots) to the less affordable (an end table shaped like a pile of books, bunkbed for the girls) and finally settled on my more modest desires, like stationery or a Kenny G CD.
I love writing letters, and I love listening to the kind of music the kids usually complain gives them a headache or “makes them feel like puking,” most notably Kenny G.
I also love magazines and books. I’m re-reading an old favorite, Hidden Art, by Edith Schaeffer, with an early 1970’s copyright. In it, Mrs. Schaeffer describes the art of writing letters in such a way I want to sit down immediately and write a long letter. I remember the first time I read her book. I was a young wife with only two or three children and I loved the idea of having pen pals that were interested in the same things as I was. I pored over each issue of “Women’s Circle,” magazine, looking in the pages of pen-pal ads for other young mothers, then writing those few I found compatible and anxiously awaiting a return letter. I no longer correspond with any of those women but I recently found an old file folder of letters and wondered whatever happened to those women. I could probably find them on Facebook or MySpace, but it would be fruitless. Since no lasting friendship formed from those letters it is unlikely we would have anything in common anymore, or that they would even remember they had corresponded with a Mary Kenyon in the early 1980’s.
Whatever happened to pen pal ads? Sadly, many magazines pulled their pen pal sections because of prisoners writing to those searching for a pen pal, and perhaps a few too many children got responses from adults pretending to be children. A sad commentary on our society today if children cannot safely advertise for pen pals.
I found this Martha Stewart stationery at Half Price Books this past summer and bought up all the sets they had left. The regular retail price of the set is almost $19, and there are only SIX sheets of writing paper inside the folio, along with matching envelopes and notecards. I use the stationery sparingly because my usual letters to my friends Mary or Jacki can run 4-5 pages long. I won’t even pay Amazon’s price to restock my stationery drawers, but then, my point in adding that stationery to my “Wish List” was to enter a contest, not to actually wish for anything.
Because if I were being completely honest, my true wish list would likely look like this; more time alone, a date with my husband, a day without fighting, a good book sale, a pile of magazines to read, a long life with my best friend David…
And those aren’t things you can really put a price on.
Or find on Amazon.