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Creating an heirloom - one letter at a time

(18 Posts)
Applegran Wed 23-Aug-17 10:55:24

When my first DGD was born, I went to help the, slightly shell shocked, parents for several weeks. It crossed my mind that these were the first days of her life, and important , but that we would all forget much of it, and she would of course not remember it at all. So I wrote her a letter. And the next time I was with her I wrote to her again - and it became a habit. As time went on I began to include photographs and to tell her, and later her brother, things they had said and done while we were together. I now have 6 DGC and write to them in the same way - though not those I see every day. I could of course 'write' to those who are close every 4 or 6 weeks, and have the same effect.
One of the children calls the letters the "what we did" letters and they look forward to them. The parents keep them. But after 10 years I had all the What We Did letters to the oldest two DGC, printed in a book - I had one printed for each family member and one for me. The family absolutely love these books and will keep them safely. Most grandparents I tell about this say they wish they had thought of it, so I thought I'd share the idea.
If you get a book printed, I found it easier to go to a printer who will print a few books at a time, rather than one of those on line printers where you do it all yourself. I finally found a printer who was very helpful and made it fairly easy to do - it is worth shopping around both for price and for helpfulness. You can of course also keep all the letters in a cloud! But I think a real book is very special and the books will probably pass down the generations. If you want to take up this idea, you don't have to get a book printed: each "What We Did" letter is looked forward to and read with huge enjoyment.

Imperfect27 Wed 23-Aug-17 11:49:04

Applegran what a lovely set of memories you must have captured - sure to be treasured and no mean feat when you have been busy with hands on visits too.

My daughter asked all the family to write a letter for our DGS in his first year that he can have to open when he is 18. She gave us 'all year' to do it, but I struggle every time I approach the task as I find myself wondering how to start ...
Dear ....
By the time you read this I may be dead, but ....

It is a sobering thought! And I just haven't found the words yet, but guess it will come to me eventually. He is now 19 months and so much more of a little man these days - just beginning to remember me between visits so maybe I will write and tell him what joy that gives me! On the day that he was born I did have the presence of mind to buy the (Sunday) Times to be kept for later.

Thank you for sharing your lovely idea.

Norah Wed 23-Aug-17 12:04:11

Brilliant. Such a lovely way to keep memories.

Anya Wed 23-Aug-17 12:06:25

A lovely idea.

Newquay Wed 23-Aug-17 15:23:15

What a lovely idea-wish I'd thought of that! Too late for eldest DGD-she'll be 21 soon.
On a slightly different tack when DGC were old enough to remember, we planted some tree seedlings/acorns in pots with them. I'm not green fingered but, somehow, they've managed to survive and a couple of years ago I bought some shallow bonsai pots and separated them all. They are doing really well and the older ones know all about them and see them on patio whenever they're here.

ninathenana Wed 23-Aug-17 15:31:34

I love the idea of the letters and the seedlings and wish I'd done the same.

I have memory boxes with birthday cards and letters for both my GC in the hope that one day I will be able to give them to GC.

grannysue05 Wed 23-Aug-17 15:40:08

I love your idea Applegran.
I started scrap books for each of the four GC's when they were born.
We fill the pages with drawings, craft work, photographs, school reports, class work, certificates from sports, letters etc.
The eldest GD is now 13 years and treasures her 'Life Books' ...she now has four full ones.
I hope to continue to encourage the children to keep adding to their books.

silverlining48 Wed 23-Aug-17 15:57:52

When my daughters were born i started writing a book for each of them, their development, what they /we were doing, places we went to etc and continued this through until they were grown. They each have their book now and it is of particular interest to my daughter with children of her own sometimes to compare..and contrast!
Since my grand children were born i have done similar, with letters to them about the time we spend together and what we do, what they do, things that made them and me laugh, fun we had. I include theatre tickets, photos of us with them and anything else of interest.
I really love the idea of having it all printed into a book.

silverlining48 Wed 23-Aug-17 16:00:28

Imperfect, i too bought a newspaper on each of the days my children and grandchildren were born.

Libralady Wed 23-Aug-17 17:08:10

In 2015, my granddaughter's first Christmas, I wrote her first 'newsletter' telling her how very special she is, all the family having wsaited 20 years for this little IVF miracle against all the odds. I told her that she was born at 33 weeks weighing 3lbs. 6 ozs. I intend to write a Christmas Newsletter to her each year detailing all the things I remember that she did during that year with milestones etc. They will be put in a special book for her which she can read when she is older - and something to remember me by in later years.

Applegran Sat 26-Aug-17 11:34:01

I love Newquay's idea of planting trees with her DGC. In fact I am doing something similar - I have got viable acorns (not all are viable, so check about this on line if you take up this idea) and as each GC reaches 3 or 4 I help them plant acorns in pots, and later the little trees get planted out in their garden. The first oak tree is taller than all of us now and my DGD loves it - it is her tree!

Applegran Sat 26-Aug-17 11:54:13

It is lovely to read such positive responses to the idea of the "What we did" letters and, if you want to, putting them all in a book. I think it is something good to do when your GC are young, even if you didn't start when they were born.If you wanted, you could write a letter with photos about what you remember about their life so far, and then begin with the 'what we did letters' at whatever age they are. If you take this idea up, you could learn from my mistakes. I only had the idea of putting them in a book as the first DGD approached her 10th birthday, and though I'd saved most of the letters on my computer, they were not all in date order and they were all in separate Word files, which meant a lot of work to get them into shape for the printer. So with hindsight, here is what I'd have done to make it all easier: save each letter in date order and separately. This is your back up. And also as you go on create and build a single Word document with all the letters in date order. You can tidy it all up and add an introduction, title page and anything else you want, when you are ready to get it printed - but this basic Word document will be the basis of the book and save you hours of work when you get to the time to print. Once it is exactly how you want it, you save it as a PDF (but keep the Word version too) and send the PDF to the printer. I hope this helps anyone doing this! Do not be put off - it doesn't require great computer skills; if you can write a letter on the computer, you can make a book, and you are not trying to make it look super professional. It is by and for family and is fine to look a bit home designed!

silverlining48 Sat 26-Aug-17 15:42:05

Applegran, Thanks for the advice a bout printing but have handwritten mine into a lined spiral notebook. ....
Does this mean i would have to type it all out adding the photos and theatre etc tickets somehow? Or scan it all page by page? Am confused with pdf...think i may be a lost cause.

Flaxseed Sat 26-Aug-17 15:53:07

When DD's were born I kept their cot labels, name tags, going home outfits and New Baby cards. Over the years I kept school reports, school photos, artwork etc.
On their 18th birthdays I added champagne and gave them everything in a keepsake box which they loved.

My first grandchild is due mid September and I expect my daughter will do something similar. But this thread gives me ideas of some things that I can do too.
Thank you!

silverlining48 Sat 26-Aug-17 16:00:23

Oh do it flaxseed, i was 61 when i became a grandma for the first time and am very aware that i probably wont be dancing at our grandchildrens weddings so keeping a book, or writi ng letters to them is a wonderful way of bridging the generations. So though we arent around forev er they will remember the fun we had and the love we shared.

silverlining48 Sat 26-Aug-17 16:07:04

Since they were born I also have sent postcards to them whenever we have been away. I choose the card carefully and they love receiving them. they keep all the cards in a special box.

Applegran Sat 26-Aug-17 22:51:45

silverlining48 - don't give up! You have choices and scanning your letters in is not impossible , and (if your handwriting is better than mine) it will be lovely for the GC to have something handwritten by you. You can scan in photos too. Or, if you can type, you can take your time and type all the letters, or even see if anyone will do it for you. There is nothing difficult about pdf - please don't be put off - it is just another form to save a document in, and it means that it cannot be changed if you send it over the internet, so the printer receives the document as you sent it. Anyone with a little experience of computers can show you how to do this.

silverlining48 Sun 27-Aug-17 22:24:14

Thanks applegran, my writing couuld be tidier but i can type. Will look into it.