To Purge or Preserve?

Molly Sonsteng
Nov 29, 2017 · 3 min read

My parents are downsizing. It’s the second time in my life they’ve packed up their home. I was 16 during our first move. We went from rural MN to smack dab middle of downtown Minneapolis. Saying goodbye to our beautiful home where my older brothers and I grew up felt like I’d lost part of myself. Luckily, we filled our new city home with all of the lovely things my parents had collected over the years. While the setting was wildly different, the insides were familiar.

My parents, John & Diane, in front of our home in rural (and snowy) Minnesota

This time, though, the downsize is real. My parents are moving from their multilevel townhome to a two bedroom apartment. This time, all of the lovely things won’t fit. This time, the purge is real.

I spent much of this year’s Thanksgiving holiday back in Minneapolis combing through used books, packing up cookware, and selecting furniture that will someday live in my home. My brothers and I were fairly diplomatic about who would get the Persian rug vs. the wingback chair.

But there was one box I spent hours going through that I just couldn’t pull myself from. A box stuffed with letters, postcards, and notes I’d saved from my childhood. I’d stumbled across a pot of gold.

My summers were spent away from my friends either at sleep-away camp or my family cabin in Northern Minnesota. While I always managed to meet new friendies at camp, my pals back home showered me with loving, beautiful, and hilarious snail mail. The time and care that went into each letter is remarkable.

Sometimes they just said “Hi, I love you and I miss you.” Those had as much of an impact as the elaborate works of art. This was a thing we did. We used pens, pencils, crayons, markers, stickers, and glitter to send love notes to the people we cared about.

It’s rare in our age of digital communication that we get this kind of connection anymore. I hold on to these artifacts because they are a reminder of the physical bond between two people. Taking time to send a real physical expression of love and affection remains incredibly important to me. While the worn leather chair and the teak desk are beautiful (and I can’t wait to have them in my home), they don’t capture the sincerity of a relationship between two people at a moment in time the way these letters do.

My grandfather’s WW2 army box stuffed with letters I’ve received since moving to New York

The box of letters I found made it through another move. I’ll place it next to the box of letters I’ve started since living in New York. These are priceless gifts that hold absolutely no monetary value, but their sentimental value is as good as gold.

Send more mail. It doesn’t take much to say “Hi. I love you and I miss you.”

Madcap Factory

Molly Sonsteng

Written by

Madcap Factory

Madcap Factory is an amusingly eccentric production house that designs, builds, launches, and manages live event series and playful experiences to help brands to engage their communities.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade