In 1771, British essayist Joseph Addison wrote “Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.” I have to respectfully disagree with J-Add. At this point in my life, Sunday is not one of my favorite days. I am afraid that I spend too much time fretting about Monday, the week to come, and the weekend past to “clear the rust” from the past week. Logically, I can admit that it is a waste to chew over the last 6 days while also worrying about the next 6, but I can’t seem to help myself. It’s an illness.
I haven’t always felt this way about Sundays. When I was younger, Sundays were great days. They followed a certain pattern, changed only by the weather, holidays or birthdays. My mom, sister and I went to church each Sunday morning, after which we headed to my grandparents house. The memories made at my grandparents’ home are some of the strongest ones of my childhood.
Sundays at Mamaw’s and Papaw’s meant many things: good food, playing with my cousins, listening to my aunt’s talk about how much we were all growing, visiting with my grandparents’ brothers and sisters, and hearing stories about the “good ‘ole days.” Mamaw was such a good cook — beans and biscuits, cabbage and corn, pintos and potatoes and all other kinds of good food. The table would be full of bowls of food, and yet it seemed that she just threw it all together, kinda nonchalantly.
Even though I saw most of my aunts every Sunday, my sister and I and my cousins went through a weekly “interrogation” — school, boyfriends / girlfriends, extracurricular activities. The older we got, the more intrusive some of the questions could become (i.e. “Are you kissing any boys? With tongue?”) And my aunts (and my mom with my cousins) were especially interested in how we girls were growing / developing, i.e. were we getting boobs? I don’t know if this interest was born of the fact that most of them were not well-endowed or what, but I’ve told people before that the first time that anyone ever “felt me up” was in my Mamaw’s kitchen when one of my aunts was checking to see how big my boobs were getting. To us, this behavior was normal (and I don’t think any of us have been scarred by it).
But the best part of Sundays was playing with my cousins. If it was warm outside, we would play in the yard, playing Red Rover, or climbing trees, or running as fast as we could. When my cousins, Wendi and JJ, and I became cheerleaders, we spent a lot of time cheering in the front yard. Sometimes we would just swing on the porch, telling each other secrets and stories.

If it were cold (which it often was in the mountains), we would sit in the living room, looking at old photo albums. Sometimes we would go into one of the back bedrooms and whisper and talk. Sometimes we would even cheer in the living room. Papaw would sit in his chair, reading his Bible or doing his crossword puzzle, and never say a word about how loud we were.

Sundays when I was a kid were days to create memories. I can remember like it was yesterday the sound of Mamaw and Papaw’s front door opening and closing. I can remember the sound of Papaw’s voice as he said the blessing before each Sunday lunch. I can remember the smell and the sounds and the events. And in this remembrance of the Sundays past I have finally been able to clear away my rust.

Love Letters

I have had computer problems for the last week. I haven’t been able to use my home computer, and I was very surprised by the feeling of helplessness that followed. How am I going to know how much money I have in the bank? How am I going to pay my bills? How am I going to keep up with the latest news? How am I going to talk with my friends and family?
Wha? Have I succumbed to the internet’s pull and left human contact behind? A 2002 study by Lutz Ebring, a professor of Mass Communication from the University of Berlin, concludes that “For each minute spent on the Internet during the last 24 hours, there is a reduction of approximately one-third of a minute spent with family members.” Professor Ebring estimates that at current usage, this means that the average American is spending one less hour per week with his or her family.
That doesn’t mean that we aren’t emailing them or instant messaging them, but apparently, we aren’t phoning them or visiting them, and we definitely aren’t writing letters to them. I know that my contact with my family was drastically reduced the last week. Yet, the postal service was still available to me. Why didn’t I write a letter?
Writing a letter is an art form that has seemingly been lost. My roommate from college was a genius letter writer. Betsy could write a letter that would leave you feeling like you were right there with her, sharing a great conversation, witnessing the same events, feeling the same emotions. While I missed her terribly every summer during our four years of school, the letters that she sent me during the breaks almost made the time apart worth it. Getting a letter from her was an event.
During our time in college, Betsy and I spent a semester in France. I was terribly home sick — my French was weak, I missed my mom, my sister and the rest of my family, I felt very out of place, and my solace during this time was writing letters home. I wrote constantly. If I knew you, you probably received a letter from me during this period. It wasn’t unusual for me to mail two or three letters each day. And my loved ones were awesome and wrote me back often, brightening my day during a time when I was really struggling to be strong.
Unfortunately, I went through a “purge phase” several years ago and threw away a lot of the letters that I received during my time in France (as well as the great letters from Betsy). Two of the letters that I kept, however, are two of my most treasured possessions — letters that my Mamaw wrote to me.

I love to reread these letters. Mamaw had the same letter writing genius as Betsy. She wrote as she spoke. Reading her letters thousands of miles away in France felt like sitting in her kitchen having a conversation with her.
“Well, I had the usual crowd for lunch today. Ashleigh’s [my sister] girlfriend the Ham came with her. She is a pretty girl to live up Poe Hollow.”
“If you see a cute boy over there, leave him be.”
“Wendi [my cousin] came out Sunday. She ate two tables down, bless her heart. It was good to see her eat.
I can hear Mamaw’s voice when I read these letters, and it almost hurts to think about how much I miss her, but I’m reminded of just how wonderful she was. I am so thankful that I have these letters — an email wouldn’t be nearly as good. Maybe all our computers should go down on occasion and we should write each other some letters.