Dear Mrs. Sperry: A letter to my past

Yesterday’s gratitude challenge was to write a letter to someone who has positively impacted your life. I figured I’d better put my pen where my post was, and started writing.

Dear Mrs. Sperry,

I paused. I hadn’t seen this woman since I was 17 years old. She, at the time, had been 82. She sent my parents a card very Christmas since we moved away from our neighborhood in Phoenix in 1989. She and her husband, Bill, had been our next door neighbors, our pseudo grandparents in my early years. We have countless family videos of me at age three, curly blonde ponytail sticking out, and Mrs. Sperry smiling in the background. In her mind, I was probably still a toddler with a squeaky little voice.

So I didn’t write much about the me of today; I wrote about the me she knew. I told her that every year at Christmas I still put out the little Santa doll she gave me, and that I still remembered her inviting us over to pick oranges from her backyard grove. I thanked her for staying in touch with my family for all these years and for keeping us in the loop on the old neighborhood. I told her I was sorry to hear Bill had passed away, but that I hoped her son was doing well and still lived nearby. I thanked her for the memories.

Putting the envelope in the mailbox, I said a silent prayer that she would receive it. It took me too long to realize a letter is always a welcome surprise, that I did have something worth writing to an old friend. So to all my friends, watch out. Your mailboxes are about to be flooded with letters from me, because I’m so very grateful for each and every one of you.

Who else has completed this week’s gratitude challenge? I’d love to hear all about your experience.

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Journeying through the great known

I love new experiences. Drop me in the middle of some unknown city and within minutes I’ll have made it my mission to find a new friend to show me the sights. That being said, every now and then it’s nice to revel in the known. Which brings me to the theme of today’s post: I am grateful for those places and people who have known you so long they’ve become a part of you.

Every winter, my family vacationed at a particular state park in Idaho. It has beautiful old cabins and miles and miles of nordic ski trails. It became a tradition to head up with family friends for at least one long weekend each year, and I’ve done my best to continue fostering a connection with that place since I’ve moved away from my home state. So my husband and I called up my best friend from growing up, and asked if she and her husband would like to meet us for a ski day at the park. They accepted and our plans were launched.

We got up early, packed a lunch, drove through the winding canyon to the park, and had our skis on by 11am. That harrowing drive always stresses me out, so the fresh air and bright sunshine were a welcome reprieve from the car. Here is the view that greeted us moments into our ski:

River

Starting to see the appeal of this place? As we skied along, two things struck me: 1. that my best friend skiing next to me probably knew my better than my parents, and perhaps better than my husband, and that that was okay, and 2. that this place might know me the best of all. I looked around and memory after memory came back. There was the cabin we’d stayed in one weekend when the snow was so high we could slide from the roof down to a cushiony pile of powder. And there was the spot my brother and I, in a rare fit of camaraderie, built the most epic snow cave this place and ever seen. And here we were on the longest ski trail in the park, the same ski trail I used to whine my way through whenever my parents took us on the long trek. I probably would not have guessed that 15 years later I would be using a vacation day just to make the trek without anyone forcing me to.

After a couple hours of skiing, we stopped for lunch. They had brought a couple bottles of wine, so we plopped down and had a picnic in the snow. We swapped stories of past ski trips and of ridiculous mistakes we had made in junior high. We laughed when one of us would make a misstep and sink thigh-deep into the snow. As we sat there reminiscing, I couldn’t help but take note that the next time we were all here, we would add this trip to the stories we had to tell about this place. And that made me pretty grateful.

And now it’s your turn: What stories do you have from your favorite places? What is it about those places that is so meaningful?

And just for fun, here’s the wine we drank–it’s made by Cliff Bar!

Cliff Bar