A few days ago my husband, Noel, and I were sitting with our two sons and their wives, reminiscing on our dating days over thirty years ago. Those were the days before cellphones and emails—a time when people still communicated with each other using the written word. ON PAPER!
I’ll never forget the first letter I found in the mailbox of my parent’s home. Noel was at college in the big city of Johannesburg, and I was living and working in our small home town a six-hour drive away. I’d opened the mailbox, peeked inside, and retrieved the contents. Seeing the envelope with Noel’s handwriting, I ran down the driveway, screaming. Well, my poor father flew out the front door, short of having a heart attack, to see what all the commotion was about. Let’s just say that I was a whole lot quieter when the next letter arrived—I wanted to keep my daddy around for a lot longer.
Noel shared the story with our boys of the day my first letter arrived in Johannesburg. I thought it would be a good idea to spray the paper with my perfume, after all, smell is the sense most linked to memory—and I wanted him to remember me. The scent wafted all the way up from the letter boxes at his dormitory to his dorm room … a long way away.
The next thing I knew, Noel had retrieved our special box from the garage, and we were rummaging through handfuls of old love-letters. Our adult children were intrigued by the fact that we bought cards with almost every mailing and tucked our letters inside. They were equally fascinated by the way I started my letters in a fancy cartwheel type design.
Those were the days! I think today’s generation loses out on so much with instant messaging and social media. There was nothing like that anticipation of waiting for a letter from my love, then sprawling across my bed, pen and paper in hand, to answer. I’m so glad that one day when I’m old and gray, I have a box of memories waiting for me to sit down and read, and remember.
When my son, Kyle, was dating his wife, Tiia, he was in South Africa while she was in Finland. Talk about a long distance relationship! Anyway, they started a love diary where one would write to the other in a special book Kyle had made. They would then package it and post it, all the way to the other side of the world. The action would then be repeated.
Another great thing Kyle did was to write and illustrate a storybook for Tiia that depicted their love story. He titled it Salt & Pepper for two reasons. They had met on missionary training, but only started dating months after they’d left. On training they had something called Social Policy, which was the organization’s strict rules about dating (or rather non-dating). Even a girl talking with a boy wasn’t allowed unless there was another girl in your company. Salt and pepper (SP) came to be the trainees’ fun way of referring to Social Policy (SP). The second reason he called the book Salt & Pepper was because Kyle is dark-haired (pepper) and Tiia, being a Finn, is blond. You’ll see this in the photo below where Kyle and Tiia are playing around with salt and pepper sachets on training, long before they were even attracted to one another.
They will have some great reading and memories for their golden years, too.
Next time I’ll share their Salt & Pepper story with you … it’s really cute. Thank you, Kyle, for giving me permission to do so.
What about you? Do you have a box of special memories from your dating days?