My good friend Amy has just called my attention to the Claude Monet exhibit at the Wildenstein Gallery
in New York City. In addition to over sixty paintings (some rare and never seen before) there are a number of letters on display. The majority of these letters are written from Monet to his love Alice HoschedÃ©. Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to trek up there before the exhibit closes on June 15th, but I will enjoy them from afar as Amy sent me the transcriptions. On February 11, 1883, he ended a letter to Alice in this charming way:
"Goodbye, you wicked gallivanting woman (just joking). I love you, there you have it, and I'm jealous that you are spending your time away from me, and I would like to know everything you did in Paris and where you went. Hug all the children. My best to Marthe [Alice's daughter, Marthe HoschedÃ©] and all my caresses are for you."
And now for a drastic change of topics: I said I'd discuss Graduation and Father's Day letters this time around. So here goes...
Nowadays what accompanies a graduation gift is usually a clever card with a quick signature, but I think there is an opportunity for some great letter writing here. My cousin Zachary will graduate from high school next week, and I am so excited to write him for a few reasons. One is that I won't be able to attend the ceremony, and I want some strong words to stand in my place. Another is that our relationship is unique in that I'm 10 years older than he, and once upon a time (between the ages of 15 and 20) I never would have guessed that he and I would be friends in any form. That changed one summer when I was staying with his family (my family too) and his mother asked me to take him to see X-Men. That was the very last thing in the world I wanted to do, but since my aunt had been so good to me in letting me live there for the summer, I took him. We had a blast, and I became an X-Men convert. Zach and I have since seen all three X-Men movies together as well as the Star Wars prequels. Science fiction was our starting bond, and it has since expanded into long talks about girls/college, and the two of us can devour a large pizza together like nobody's business.
This relationship with my cousin caught me completely off guard, and I want to tell him that. I want him to know how proud of him I am and that he can come to me if and when (I'm expecting this) he gets into any trouble at college. I want to give him advice ? knowing full well that he won't take it but also knowing that he'll come back to me years later and tell me I was right.
So my advice for graduation letters is this:
- Write them: Go beyond simple sentiments and tell the person how you admire their achievements and can't wait to see what they'll do with their degree.
- Advise them: If you have wisdom to impart, go for it. I plan to tell Zach that he doesn't have to cram all of his fun into four years. I'll say I want him to have a good time, of course, but that no one told me how crazy and wonderful my early twenties would be. Early twenties are a lot easier to live-up with money in your back pocket, and often times money comes from good grades and persistence in college.
- Remind them: That you love them and that you've got their back as the next chapter in their life begins.
Father's Day Letters
These are love letters, and they're difficult to write, I find, as many people have a bit of an emotional disconnect from their fathers. It's just not as easy to tell Dad you love him as it usually is to tell Mom. It is, however, easier and permanent in a letter. This year I am very excited to write my father, as he just graduated with his bachelor's degree (isn't that great!). I already wrote him a graduation letter, but look forward to elaborating in a Father's Day missive. If you're having trouble getting started with your Father's Day message here are a few ideas:
- Say Thank You: This is your father. He has certainly made many sacrifices for you ? plenty that you don't even know about. Tell him his hard work in raising you has not gone unnoticed.
- Point Out Your Good Qualities: Tell Dad what some of your favorite features about yourself are, and give then credit where it's due. For example: "Someone at work the other day told me I take no prisoners and followed up with how much he admires that. I laughed because I knew my professional ruthlessness couldn't have come anywhere other than my father ? the original master of wheeling and dealing."
- Say I Love You: It sounds so simple, but it's something I really don't say to my father that often. Perhaps I'll phrase it that way this year: "I'm guilty of rarely saying this, but I'll never forgive myself if you don't know it: I love you, Dad!"