It Started as a Letter


This Independence Day celebration was a grand one. Normally we stay home on the third and watch our town's firework display from the convenience of our street. One perk of living in a small town is that on such days of celebration people feel free to pull their lawn chairs into the street to watch the display. Traffic has never been a problem because everyone in town is either watching from their own yard, the city park, or paid the entrance fee at the high school bowl for a close up view. This year was different, however. We had an invitation from an aunt and uncle who live a few hours north of us to come up to their place for a barbecue. We could spend the night and return home after a pancake breakfast the following day.  A week before said barbecue I learned that quite a few people had been invited and I knew this would be a lot of fun.
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On the day of the party we arrived at our uncle's house to find the back yard brimming with guests. Some were neighbors but most were relatives and some of those had come from quite a distance...from out of state, actually. One aunt had brought a stack of family photos she had neatly organized. The album with the old black and white pictures was the most interesting and made for the best stories. While a number of us were crowded around the albums passing around bits of family history, our host came up behind me and said, "This is your fault you know." Seeing my surprise he said, "Be careful what you wish for. You said you wanted to know the Northern Duffys." This is true. I had said that. A few months earlier I wrote a letter to my aunt and uncle saying that I knew the Southern Duffys pretty well because of family reunions in Southern California but after 22 years of being a Duffy I still didn't know the Northern Duffys well. To my amazement, the whole party had been arranged in response to that letter. The entire day was wonderful and yes, I did get to know the Northern Duffys better as well as meet a couple cousins for the first time. I think it is safe to say that the day was a blessing to us all and I am still enjoying the sense of amazement that so much came of a simple letter, the response to which was tremendous generosity. It is encouraging proof that even in the electronic age the handwritten letter is still an important and effective way to keep families connected.

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