Do you know the song by Brad Paisley, Letter to Me? Essentially, the song is about looking back and writing a letter to your past-self. Offering advice, recalling memories and providing a moment to remember who you were back then.
Class of 201o recieved their letters from the past this last week, from 4 years ago exactly (it was written on June 21, 2006, and today is June 21, 2010). Our reading and Language Arts teacher had charged us to write a letter to ourselves, to be mailed and opened as our high school careers drew to a close. Lacking time to sit down and think about the letter and what I had written, I had stuck it to the back of the front door (where many important things are amassed beneath a collection of magnets. This evening was the first time I had a spare moment to curl up and read the letter.
First, let me say that I have become a rather prolific letter-writer over the years. I love sending and receiving mail. My eigth grade letter does not testify of that fact. It is rather boring in the way of letters. I would like to think that my skills have improved tenfold in the last four years.
I started my letter out with a blandly awkward ‘hey.’ I remember trying to find a greeting that wasn’t ridiculously formal or childishly presumptious. But, to my credit, there wasn’t any pandering around the ubject of graduation- I merely noted that if I was in fact reading the letter, I had survived: “If I’m reading this it must mean I made it to my senior year.” I recalled the quote, ‘awesome memories’ (our eighth grade Semi-Formal, our Eigth Grade Picnic to High Meadows and our “last ever CMTs”).
Each of the people in my class had a description, and I laughed while reading them. Some still ring true while others have changed dramatically. But the some of the class was “…wow… insane.”
In the last paragraph was advice to myself. I have to admit, it was both embarrassing and highly amusing. Buy the book I had been looking forward to. “And if you aren’t attending Church regularly, GO.” There was also an ultimatum issued, “now that you’ve finished senior year, lets see if you can make it to college.”
As I had opened the envelope, a popsicle stick had fallen out, bearing my name and “2005-2006” on it. I was confused, wracking my brain for whatever was associated with it. Then I read my post-script (I was really into post-scripts back then).
PS- I have enclosed my popsicle stick (AKA the “stick of fate”). The one that made me do the chicken dance.
Immediately, I recalled the recalled the reason for the “stick of fate.” We had used it as a method for picking people to answer questions during Wordly Wise. If you got the answer correct, you went up to the front of the class and drew a slip of paper out of a box. Sometimes you would have to answer a question, other times do jumping jacks, and then there were times when you had to do the chicken dance. It was called “No Peeky-Peeky” for obvious reasons. You weren’t allowed to peek at your card. If you didn’t do whatever the card said, you were to mark a question wrong (or your neighbors). It was always a treat to play the game, there was no end to the laughter in the classroom when we did.
Enclosed with all of our letters was a letter from our teacher. It made me laugh and get a little teary-eyed at the same time. There was a congratulations for surviving high school (and a quip about the teachers surviving us). Also a note that after perusing our eigth grade yearbook, he hopedd we had changed (I know I don’t look like a 12 year old any more!).
The next parts were what caused me to become teary-eyed. Well wishes for the future and fond remembrances of our classes (I believe that my class was referred to specifically, for good reason!) and a promise to see many of us at our commencement ceremony tomorrow.
Reading the letters brings back some serious memories, some I wish to forget, but the majority I hope to remember for many years to come.
In addition to the letters, I recieved a wonderful gift from my Young Women’s leaders. They put together a little treasure of a book filled with letters and their testimonies, and the back few pages comprised of excerpts of the testimonies of each of the Latter-day prophets – from Brother Joseph to President Monson. It was absolutely heartwarming to read a message from each of my YW leaders written specifically for me. They shared with me not only their testimonies, but advice and encouragement as well.
I was reminded of the 2010 Mutal Theme, Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (And I can’t help but hear these words resound through my mind in the gentle voice of Thomas S. Monson)
It is the truth when I say that this is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. These faithful women have been so loving and have always been a great source of comfort, guidance, and encouragement. This little handmade book is most certainly a treasure.
In the face of graduation tomorrow evening, both the letters and the ribbon-bound book are a great source of comfort and encouragment. I think that sometime this week I will have to write myself a letter to open in another 4 years, and include in it my own testimony.
(I must also find new stationary, because I have many thank-yous to write in the coming weeks. Good stationary is quite hard to find nowadays.)