We passed around, opened and read some old letters C had saved from years ago:
We then recited this poem about an illiterate man, who received a letter, but didn't know who it was from or what was in it:
Touching your goodness, I am like a man
Who turns a letter over in his hand
And you might think this was because the hand
Was unfamiliar but, truth is, the man
Has never had a letter from anyone;
And now he is both afraid of what it means
And ashamed because he has no other means
To find out what it says than to ask someone.
His uncle could have left the farm to him,
Or his parents died before he sent them word,
Or the dark girl changed and want him for beloved.
Afraid and letter-proud, he keeps it with him.
What would you call his feeling for the words
That keep him rich and orphaned and beloved?
The man was ashamed he couldn't read. We talked about what it means to be ashamed of something, and some of us shared personal stories. It was a great conversation!
We had also brought out different kinds of stationary, and talked about how a writer can express feelings and ideas without using words.
Everyone chose somebody they wanted to write a letter to, and we spent a good chunk of the morning composing our letters. Some children wrote more than one. Grandparents, friends, even a friend's dog got one.
We then wrote addresses on the envelopes, attached stamps for domestic and international destinations, and walked the letters to the mailbox down the street.
I think everybody felt like they had touched someone far away.
Update: we just learned that April is National Card and Letter-Writing Month – who knew!