Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rock & Roll Will Never Die: How To Rock Your Retirement

My first taste of rock music was the sounds emanating from my brother's room

I was about nine or ten and he was 14 or 15. His room was across the hall and he would play his radio and sing along to the Big Bopper's "Chantilly Lace" or "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis. (My brother used to also tie me up in a strait jacket, but that's a whole different story)!  I also remember seeing the movie "Rock Around the Clock" starring Bill Hailey and his Comets and kids actually got up out of their seats to dance in the aisles.

I just loved rock and roll from the first time I heard it.  I was a huge Elvis fan until the Beatles came along and blew him out of the water.

As I grew up I remember having an epiphany of sorts about rock & roll.

My parents were 40 when I was born, and despite the fact that my Dad was a musician and a huge fan of swing and Dixieland, they just didn't get rock & roll.  My sister was nine years older and she didn't get it either.  They all thought it was a phase that would pass and music not worth talking about.

But I just knew that rock and roll was here to stay and there was no going back. 

I knew it deep inside that once those beats and sounds were unleashed, there was no way they could be squashed down ever again.  And I was not alone. 

Rock and roll changed a whole generation.

It was the soundtrack of Baby Boomers' lives.

In Junior High (we didn't call it middle school then), we had "Puppy Love"



and danced  to "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" and "Louie, Louie."

In high school, we wore madras plaid shirts and pretended we were surfers like The Beach Boys until Motown got our attention followed by the Beatles, Cream, the Rolling Stones and the British Invasion, and we grew our hair long and tarted ourselves up in Edwardian gear.

In college, in the shadow of the Vietnam War, we experimented with sex and drugs with the rock and roll of the Doors, the Moody Blues, the Jefferson Airplane and Janis and Jimi.

As we left college and made our way in the world, it was to the music of Led Zeppelin, Bob Seger, the Eagles, Steve Miller, Hall & Oates, Heart and  (sigh)Disco.

In the 1990's New Wave, Grunge, and Punk were followed by Hip Hop, Indie Rock and Emo as we moved into another century.

And here we are.

Remember Mick Jagger saying, "I'd rather be dead than singing 'Satisfaction' when I am 45?"   M-m-m-m.

"Never trust anyone over 35."   M-m-m-m

"Sixty is the new 40."  Well, this one I agree with.

Baby Boomers never thought they would grow old and we have gone kicking and screaming into maturity.

Some of us are retiring.  Some of us are not.

And you know what? 

Our rock icons are not!

In the last year Hubby and I have attended 11 concerts, all starring musicians in their 60's and 70's.

So Rock and Roll will not only never die,
it doesn't look like it will retire either.

As for me, I may have retired from my career as a librarian, but my career as a "groupie" is still intact.  I haven't stopped since I was pulled up on stage to dance with a Moody Blues cover band in college. Even now, if I can get down to the front of the stage, I'm there!

Here's the rundown of this year's concerts:

Bob Seger.  Age 68
Sang all of the hits, especially  my favorites, "We've Got Tonight" and "Roll Me Away." He looked good, his voice was strong and he played for a full two hours.

Joe Walsh.  Age 65 
Opened for Bob Seger.  His guitar skills are still superb, he is hilarious and skinny as hell and he probably would have played longer if he hadn't been opening for Bob Seger.

Steve Miller.  Age 69
I have never forgiven him for a concert in San Francisco in the early 1970's when someone yelled out, "Play Quicksilver Girl," and he sneered, "That was 1968."  I thought, what a pompous ass, but he seems to have settled down in his "old age."  We saw him in an outdoor venue at a local winery where I am known to get myself down close to the stage. 

Groupie moment:  I did and I have his guitar pick to prove it.  And I never mentioned "Quicksilver Girl."

The Joker



Robert Plant.  Age 65
Still got the chops but can't quite hit those really, really high notes.  Might have shown his age a bit as he didn't sing a very long set.

Groupie moment:  Got fairly close to the stage after stepping over angry picnickers to get close, but was stopped by a big burly security guy.

 




Cy Curnin of The Fixx.  Age 55 (he's a youngster)
Voice really strong, has kept in great shape. 
Must be that huge glass of red wine he kept sipping during the show! (You can see it on the stool behind him in the picture on the right)



Gladys Knight.  Age 69
What can I say about Gladys? 
Have been a huge fan ever since the Motown years and her songs bring back many memories of love gone right and love gone wrong.  That little catch in her voice is so affecting.  Watching her perform makes me feel that I am in the presence of greatness - her poise, her self assurance and her vocal skills, which are still intact, make for a great show. Saw her at our favorite outdoor venue - Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.

Groupie moment:  I was in the front row.  When Gladys left the stage, I yelled "Gladys, you are fabulous!"  She looked back and gave me a thumbs up.


The O'Jays

(Eddie Levert Age 71; Walter Williams Age 70; Eric Grant (the new "kid") Age 56

They followed Gladys and put on a fabulous show complete with epaulets on their costumes and classic Motown footwork.


Groupie moment:  Eric handed me his sweaty towel.

 
I think I had a few glasses of wine by this time.




Daryl Hall, Age 66 and John Oates, Age 64.
Have seen them twice. They have their set down. They play their hits and get the hell off the stage, but they are still in great voice and look fabulous.  They are one of Hubby's obsessions, but rightly so.  

I recommend the very cool show "Live from Daryl's House," where Daryl invites musicians to his house to play their and his tunes, usually followed by cooking up some good food.  It started out as an online show and is now on cable (new series starting next year). 

Hall & Oates influenced a whole new generation of musicians. So why the hell are they not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
(Hubby made me write that part but I actually agree with him).

Pat Benatar. Age 60
Did you know she originally trained as an opera singer?  She has the chops to prove it.  She looked and sounded more like she was 40 (because as I said earlier, 60 is the new...)

Heart
Ann Wilson Age 63; Nancy Wilson Age 59

Saw them twice, once at an outdoor venue at a State Fair and this year at Seattle's premiere music event Bumbershoot, where they were one of the big acts playing the Key Arena.  They were great at the Fair, but at Bumbershoot, they outdid themselves when Jason Bonham played drums with them (he opened for them) and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam came out and they did about five Led Zeppelin tunes. 

Ann Wilson can sing Robert Plant better than Robert Plant.

Moody Blues
Justin Hayward Age 66; John Lodge Age 68; Graeme Edge Age 72
First saw them in 1971 and here they are 42 years later, a little grayer, a little heavier but, oh, those beautiful tunes.  Justin didn't really engage with the audience that much, other than to introduce the songs, but John was pointing and making eye contact.

Groupie moment:  John Lodge might have been pointing at me.  I'm sticking with that.

Remember this?

Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day's useless energy spent.
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
Lonely man cries for love and has none.
New mother picks up and suckles her son,
Senior citizens wish they were young.
Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white.
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion? 


Yes, of course, they included it.

 

Ginger Baker. Age 74
He is considered one of the greatest drummers of all-time but he seems to be one of the most bitter as well. If you have seen the documentary on him, "Beware of Mr. Baker," you will understand why.  And he didn't disappoint. 

As he came on stage he told the guy introducing him to "get off the stage."  I dub him the curmudgeon of rock and roll, though he's more of a jazz guy now.  He had to be helped on stage and played two short sets, but he can still drum.

Groupie Moment:  No way.  I didn't dare.



 
Then
 
Now



 
 
 
 
 
 

I saved the best for last. 

He was the first ever musical act to play Safeco Stadium in Seattle -- and he played for over 3 hours!!  He is 71 and never left the stage and sang every song, over 30 of them.  It was just amazing.  I wrote about my love of the Beatles in my blog "Why the Beatles Matter," where I described how it felt to see Paul 49 years after first seeing the Beatles.  He was absolutely amazing and a perfect advertisement for why "Rock & Roll Will Never Die."



So why are these men and women still doing this after all of these years?

One reason could be the money, but I would say it's more because they love what they are doing.  Sir Paul certainly does.  You couldn't get him off the stage!

And that, folks, is the secret to rocking your retirement. 

It's the old expression, "Use it or lose it."

If you are good at something, enjoy something, love something, do it! Never stop.

When I was struggling with the first months of retirement after 40 years of routine, I was given some advice by another blogger - Tamara at "Early Retirement Journey."  She recommended the book "The Joy of Not Working" by Ernie J. Zelinski. 



In it, he has the reader prepare a "Get-a-Life Tree" where you map out "Options for my Leisure," with the branches labeled "Activities that turn me on now," Activities that turned me on in the past," "New activities I have thought of doing," and "Activities that will get me physically fit."  And you must come up with at least 50 different activities.

And I discovered I am a much more interesting person than I thought. 

I came up with more than 50  things to do.

I used to love horseback riding and plan to do that again.

I love to cook so I am taking cooking classes.

I want to learn to play the bass guitar.

I love movies so I have added a "movie day" to my new routine instead of just watching DVDs.

And that's just the start.

And I will continue to rock right along with my rock idols.

If they can keep rocking, so can I!

Oh, by the way, did I tell you I have my own rocker right in my own family?

Hubby!

Groupie Moment:  It's how it all began!



Then 
 
 
 

                                                         Now                      



(And he is never going to retire.  He can't afford to!)


But we will rock it together!



I would love to hear about your
Rock & Roll Moments!
 


See you Friday for movie and DVD reviews
and other fun stuff!
 
Thanks for reading! 
If you enjoyed this post,
feel free to subscribe and/or share it with your friends.
 
(Ginger Baker "Now" photo courtesy of Mike Tiano)
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Parisian Chic


How to get your Parisian Chic on,

or Why do French women keep messing with our self-esteem?


First it was "French Women Don't Get Fat," and now we have "Paris Street Style:  A Guide to Effortless Chic," "Stuff Parisians Like: Discovering the Quoi in the Je Ne Sais Quoi," "Forever Chic, French Women's Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance,"  "Parisian Chic, A Style Guide," and "Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris." 

It's bad enough that we are thought to be the most obese nation on earth (which the French loathe, being obese, not America - but I could be wrong), but that our style is also crap...It's just too much, or should I say, "C'est trop?!

But if you feel you need to look like a French woman, I feel it's my mission to help you get your Parisian chic on, so I will give you the short and to the point versions of each: 


Naturally she was a French exchange student in the U.S. and, quelle horreur, she got fat and had to go back to France to get skinny again. In the end, nothing really new.  Willpower, small portions, and keep a food diary.  Been there, done that. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...The only real "miracle food" here is the wine.




Here is the breakdown of essential elements for your wardrobe, Parisian style and what not to wear as in quilted jackets and Converse sneakers after the age of 26. 

Funny, when I was in Paris, saw nothing BUT quilted jackets.  Those people couldn't have all been Americans, could they?  No surprises - yes to the LBD and yes to adding vintage items.  No to polyester.  Just not too much - moderation, moderation, moderation.  

French actress and singer Emmanuelle Seigner is quoted: “American women are pulled together perfectly from the moment they wake up in the morning: perfect hair, varnished nails, high heels ... as if they were bound for a cocktail party or some red-carpet affair. French women don’t bother their heads so much.” 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Huh?  She should see me when I wake up.  Bed hair, bitten nails, broken toe that won't fit in high heels...I guess I must be more French than I thought.



Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings...

Just kidding, those aren't things Parisians like. 
They actually like baguettes, the word putain and saying Americans are stupid.  This is a sort of a send up...or is it?

Rosy the Reviewer says...je ne sais quoi is French for WTF






Finally, one for women of a certain age. 

Did you know we are considered "alluring, mysterious, and seductive?" 
In France, anyway.

Rosy the Reviewer says...One of the pieces of advice: use your Hermes scarf as a cumberbund.  My who, what?




The author is a Chanel model from the 1980's. 
I wish she talked a bit more about what a woman of her age would wear to be chic but here is her "Magnificent Seven:"

The Magnificent Seven:

1. A Man’s Blazer
2. The Trench
3. The Navy (cashmere) Sweater
4. The Tank
5. The Little Black Dress  (there's that LBD again)
6. The Perfect Jeans
7. The Leather Jacket

Rosy the Reviewer says...What?  No mention of a scarf?






French Madame (not THAT kind of madam) straightens out her American exchange student and teaches her the way of the French. 

I had a hard time getting past the chapter "Look Presentable Always," which basically says, if we run around in Uggs and droopy sweatpants, we don't respect ourselves enough to wear the feminine and beautiful things we were meant to wear at all times and heaven forbid we should set foot in Paris.

Rosy the Reviewer says...This is like a new version of "Gigi."




Moi -  Paris 2013



Rosy the Reviewer says...Bottom Line for French Fashion and Lifestyle:  Stop eating so damn much, take the stairs and wear a scarf!





Now on to

The Week in Reviews 




Enough Said (2013)



Eva, a divorced masseuse facing an empty nest meets Albert, also divorced and in a similar situation. 

Never much of a fan of Julia Louis-Dreyfus or James Gandolfini and have always thought Catherine Keener was over-rated but this film helped change my mind.  The acting and screenplay were all first-rate, though I saw where the film was going early on (I was surprised that some of the other people in the audience gasped when they realized the plot twist).  The characters were charming and affecting, though Louis-Dreyfus' character was clueless and verged a bit too close to Elaine at times, but she pulled back just enough to reel me in and I found her acting natural and easy-going.  Gandolfini showed a softer side and seeing him in this film made me sad that his life was cut off before he could mine that side of his talent.  I found the film very touching.

Rosy the Reviewer says...A smart, affecting romantic comedy for the discerning filmgoerHowever, it could use a better title.



Before Midnight (2013)



It started 18 years ago with Before Sunrise when Jesse and Celine met on a train bound for Vienna.  Their instant attraction led them to spend the night together talking, never to meet again.  But another nine years later, they do meet again in Paris in Before Sunset and their romance is rekindled.  And now they are together another nine years later with twins and we spend another day with them, a bit more contentiously than in the past. 

All three films consist of long, smart and funny conversations between Jesse and Celine, this time as they end a summer vacation in GreeceUsing long uninterrupted camera shots as they walk and talk in beautiful surroundings, Jesse and Celine explore the nature of their relationship. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy share writing credits with Director Richard Linklater, which is apparent in the almost improvisational nature of their dialogue.  Critics likened this trilogy to Michael Apted's Up series (that has followed 14 British children every seven years since 1964).  That's a stretch, but director Linklater has been similarly faithful every nine years since 1995 and created a trilogy that captures the reality of meeting, falling in love and what it takes to stay in love.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like reality, here it is.  Love is not a fairy tale.  It can be messy.  Smart and beautiful film-making.




The East (2013)


An Eco group is attacking major corporations and our heroine infiltrates, only to be highly affected by the zealous group.

The last time I saw Brit Marling (who co-wrote this screenplay), she was starring in another film she had written, Another Earth (2011), a wonderful little indie film about a planet that is the mirror of earth (recommended). 

Rosy the Reviewer says...A fun diversion, but Brit Marling is the main reason to watch.






Olympus has Fallen (2013)


Another siege upon the White House. 

Butler is a badass as he tries to save the President.  I also liked that the woman Secretary of Defense was a brave badass as well.

Rosy the Reviewer says...very violent, the usual stuff,  but exciting nevertheless.  I wonder what it would have been like in 3-D.





***TV***




A delightful British TV series where a couple of senior citizens reunite after years apart. 

Many of my fave British actors are here and it's just a lovely story that will appeal to all of us other senior citizens especiallyPlaying on PBS but also Available on Netflix now in Season 3.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Derek Jacobi (remember him in the Cadfael series?) is just a wonderful actor.  His nuances here are a thing to behold.  Highly recommended.



  
That's it for this week. 

This weekend, you can go to the movies, rent a DVD, check out your local music scene or go through your closet and get totally depressed because you are not French!


  
See you Tuesday for my blog

"Rock & Roll Will Never Die!"


Thanks for reading! 
If you enjoyed this post,
feel free to subscribe and/or share it with your friends.









Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Lost Art of Correspondence and How To Bring It Back

Social Media.

It used to be called correspondence, also known as writing letters.





There was a  time, long, long ago, the Olden Days really, when people communicated by writing letters. 

No computers, no smart phones and calling long distance on the telephone was prohibitive. I can't tell you how many times I would call my parents and after only a few minutes, my mother would say," Well, I don't want to run up your phone bill.  Thanks for calling."  Click.

When my mother died (my Dad preceded her by eight years), my sister and I cleared out her house, a sorry task to say the least.  Since we both lived far away, we didn't have the time to go through each and every keepsake, so my sister filled a box with letters and pictures my mother had saved, planning to go through it all later.

Well, later turned out to be 14 years later, but she did it and recently sent me the letters and pictures I had sent to my mother and father over the years and that my mother had saved. And my mother saved everything.

As I went through all of the cards, letters, and pictures that I sent my parents and that my mother saved, memories came flooding back - memories of them and memories of who I was then.  And there was comfort there. I was comforted by the fact that I was good to my parents and communicated often despite the miles.  I was comforted to know that despite the hardships of my early married years, I was able to enjoy my children.  I was comforted to be reminded that my parents had always been there for me.

I moved far from home right after college and did not return often.  My letters to my parents reflect my regret at being so far away from them.

While away, I raised a family, their grandchildren, and my parents spent many holidays alone. But we wrote and called often. 

It's comforting to see these items now and to know that I tried to share my life and their grandchildren's lives with them, even though we were thousands of miles apart.

Will our children have such mementos to tie them to the past and to us?

Because I think this is so important for the next generation, I have come up with a plan to bring back the Art of Correspondence.

But first, if you will indulge me, I would like to share some of the pictures and sentiments I had sent my parents and that I am lingering over these many years later, thinking of them, reading the letters and enjoying the pictures, so happy these have remained.  And in so doing, perhaps inspire you to join me in my letter writing campaign.

"I'm so crazy about Alex.  He can make or break my day depending on whether he smiles at me or not.  He's such a good boy too...He's also creeping around everywhere.  He doesn't exactly crawl yet, rather, he pulls himself along with his arms, dragging his legs.  I liken him to a dying man in the desert pulling himself to the last water hole...that baby really loves to ramble."



"Happy Birthday, Mom!
We're enjoying the children immensely.  Ashley can't walk quite yet, but will probably be close to Alex in that he walked right on his first birthday...She makes lots of ma-ma-ma-ma sounds and dadoo-dadoo-dadoo, so she'll probably be very verbal, too, like Alex...Alex is doing really well in school.  His teacher says he is the consummate worrier...She doesn't say it in a derogatory way.  She says it's just that he is so far ahead of the others mentally that he can see the ramifications of every problem right away and does a lot of "What if..."  She says he also never lets her forget to feed the fish or anything else for that matter, but she says he is always nice about it..."



"...Ashley is so adorable.  Tonight I was saying, "Night, night" and I kissed her hand.  She looked up at me, took mine and kissed my hand right back.  I wish you both could see her.  She is so loving and adorable and cuddly.  I have the most wonderful children in the world!"

 
Four years later I wrote:

"Happy Anniversary...Ashley is already a star at her new daycare.  She was off last Friday and when I took her on Monday one of the teachers said that they had really missed her.  Several little children had come to the teacher asking "Where my Ashley" was...[and] Alex... is worrying about everything under the sun."


Priceless.

My letters home all seem to be apologizing for not writing more and complaining about having to work so much.

"I'm really sorry I've been so remiss about writing...We've been working so much...and not doing much of excitement (sic), that I've found it difficult to write as I haven't had much to say.  But I really do think of you every day and mean to write more often.  With working, having two small children and trying to keep up a large house, my head is spinning most of the time!"

In addition to trying to keep my parents up to date with our lives, I am also glad I said the things I wanted to say to them when they were alive and that I wrote it down.

"A letter to my Mother on Mother's Day, 1986"
Mom, you have given me so much.  Because you are my Mother I am a better person.  Because of you I have
---the desire to be a mother (if it hadn't been for your good mothering, I might never have had my beautiful children).
---the ability to love my children unconditionally and to be forever concerned about their happiness and sorrow
---the desire and ability to do my best, to be the best person I can be, not to just get by but to do it right...
 
and I go on adding many more positives including "my gift of gab" and "good health and stamina" due to my Swedish heritage!
 
My mother saved that list so I can remember it now. 

And I saved her letter where she responded:


 "Thank you for the nice Mother's Day card and the "eulogy."  Nice to hear those things while I am still here."

My mother was 78 when I sent her that.  She lived to be 91.
 
I did the same sort of thing for my Dad earlier in my life. 

(My Mother and I had a rocky time during the teen years and I didn't really appreciate her until I had children of my own).



"My Dad"


 
1. My Dad can whip up exotic snacks on three minutes notice
2.  My Dad makes dreams come true:
    a.  like canopy beds
    b.  princess phones
    c.  fox muffs
    d.  little furry poodles...
    e.  sleek white sports cars
(ed. note:  What can I say, I was spoiled rotten)
3. My Dad knows just what to say when I am sad or happy
4.  My Dad is encouraging in my moments of uncertainty
 
I go on for several more and end with "And because of all these things, I certainly am proud that you are MY Dad.  All my love on Father's Day..."

 
I wasn't kidding about the fox muff!

 
If I hadn't written those letters, put them in envelopes with pictures and mailed them, I wouldn't have these memories now, memories that have since slipped from my consciousness

And because my mother saved those letters, I know they were meaningful to my Dad and her.  And now they exist for the next generation.

You might say that once you write an email or put something on the Internet, it's always there. 

That may be true, but you don't find old emails, old texts or old tweets.  You can't hold them in your hands and see your handwriting, know that your mother and/or father also held those letters and turned over those pictures to see what you wrote on the back. 

My Dad always wrote long handwritten letters with some news, but mostly philosophical letters that blended his religion with his view of the world and laced with his sense of humor.

Here is an example:



"Dear Folks,
Wherever Ashley goes she leaves a TALE behind her!  Yeah!
When she was here we took her to ...Sunday School...When the class began [the teacher] said "This is Ashley...from California..."  Ashley wasn't satisfied with  that.  She said to [the teacher] "I don't know these girls, will you please introduce me?" Each one was introduced...[Finally the teacher] said, "Ashley this is Martha."  Martha didn't reply..."Aren't you going to say hello to Ashley?"  Martha answered, "No!  I'm not allowed to talk to strangers!"



He loved stuff like that.


Ashley was five and she was staying with my parents while we went to Europe and this story was told in church to the congregation!  I wasn't there but was able to enjoy the story then and now and share it with my kids because my Dad wrote it down.

After his opening story, my Dad's letter went on to say, "We're glad you called.  Don't be discouraged by circumstances!" and he outlined the pioneering women in his family who had endured the wilderness to settle a Michigan County ending with "We are mightily proud of all of your accomplishments - AND LOVE YOU! - even though it is difficult to always express it, except with care, concern, comfort (clothes?) closeness and calmness - and being ready to help in any way we can."

Not sure what was going on with me then, other than the stress of working full-time, too much to do and not enough money like most people in their 30's, but my Dad was always quick to try to make things better.  (I hope I wasn't asking for money!) and it's comforting to read those words now as I work on my new life in retirement.  I am glad I have those letters.

My mother's letters were mostly newsy and often included every single thing she ate at a potluck or dinner.  She was very detail oriented.  Must be where I got that from.  Advice or admonitions were also thrown in.  She couldn't help herself.  But her letters always ended with "We love you"

I always thought my mother had the most beautiful handwriting. And the schools no longer teach cursive? 



So because I want the next generation to have these kinds of memories to savor and because it's not too late to say the things you really want to say to your loved ones,

want to bring back the Art of Correspondence.



And here is my plan: 

  • This holiday season, forego what I call  "the bragging letter." 
       I don't want to start a firestorm here, but I have a real aversion to 
       receiving that one or two page typed letter listing all of your families'
       accomplishments over the last year and/or your trials and tribulations.  
       Yes, I am interested in you and your life, but I'm not interested in your 
       Aunt Hattie's broken leg, little Mary's piano lessons or details on your dog's
       antics.  What I am interested in is YOU - what you are feeling and what our
       relationship means to you.

       So this holiday season, instead of sending out an impersonal typed letter 
       which takes you time to write, print out and stuff into the holiday card,  
       why not take that time to write one or two personal lines in that 
       card, telling the recipient what that person has meant to your life? 
       If you are against the commercialism of Christmas, what better way to
       combat it than to tell people you care about what they have meant to you?

  • If you give or send someone a birthday card, Mother's Day card, etc., don't just rely on the sentiment in the card and sign your name, write something heartfelt in it.
      
  • Instead of emailing your grandchildren, send them postcards with a short note about the card, perhaps inspiring them to learn something new. 
       For example, you can send a card with a picture of a place around your 
       town and then ask your grandchild to have Mommy or Daddy show them
       where the place is on a map.  Naturally email and Skype helps us stay in
       touch with our loved ones and we should keep doing that on a regular
       basis, but also sending them something tangible to keep will be special the
       moment it is received and later in life, when it is rediscovered.

  • Do a letter-writing "craft" with your children or grandchildren.
       Give the younger generation a chance to taste the joys of writing letters by
       making it fun.  "Let's write Granny a letter and send her a picture you
       have drawn." That will be a novelty to children who only know IPads, Smart
       Phones and computers. 

  • Write, and I mean write, not email, a thank you note. 
       I think thank you notes particularly have gone the way of the dinosaur, but
       it has meaning to receive one in the mail, that you know someone made
       the effort to purchase the note and hand write it.  Instill this in your
       children.  I know it's nagging but sometimes you have to nag.  Both of my
       children sent thank you's and even though they may not be doing it now, I
       know they have guilt about it!  And I know they had meaning, because my
       mother kept every one of them.

  • Surprise someone with a heartfelt letter.
       Mend fences, if you need to, or just write a letter for no other reason than
       to say, I care, I love you, I know you are hurting, I am there.  Give that
       person something to hold and read and reread forever.

  • Write a letter to yourself.
        If you don't keep a diary, write yourself a letter every so often and put it
        away to read later.  You will be astonished at the place you were at then.

  • Write a letter to your loved ones to be read after you are gone.
        Don't wait to say everything you need to say to your loved ones.  None of
        us knows when the grim reaper will appear.  If you can't say it in person,
        don't leave them wondering.  Say everything you didn't say or should have
        said when you were alive. Write it all down, put it somewhere where it will
        be found and give them the comfort they will need.  It's better late than
        never.

So that's my plan.  I know we all have very busy lives but it only takes a small amount of time to make a big difference in someone's life and to create lasting memories.

Now don't you have a letter to write?
 
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See you Friday for some great ideas for the weekend and my reviews of the week and next Tuesday when I will strike a lighter note with my column
 "Rock & Roll will Never Die!"