|Here, these are for you!
Anyone remember clippings? When friends or relatives saw something in a magazine or the newspaper—an article, a recipe, a letter in Dear Abby—they would cut it out and send it to you, perhaps with a little note attached: “Thought you’d get a kick out of this,” or, “Wouldn’t the kids love these cookies?” Or maybe the article would prove you were wrong, or right, regarding whatever you’d been arguing about last time you got together. “See?” the note might say.
My father-in-law subscribed to several newspapers, which he read religiously every day. If he found something amusing, or thought-provoking, or provocative, he’d clip it and send it to the party he thought would appreciate it most. When my kids went off to summer camp, he’d write them several times a week, and stick in the box scores, or a cartoon, or maybe an article that was in three columns, continued on a back page—long flimsy strips that he would staple together. He continued the practice when they went off to college.
My eagle-eyed Aunt Rockie keeps piles of clippings for each of her three daughters, and may, I suspect, also have separate piles for her six grandchildren. She keeps books in a back room in no apparent order, but if you go see her, she’ll put her hands right on the book (or stack of books) that she put aside for you.To her, they’re just long-form clippings. Interested in the Marx Brothers or Greek mythology? She has books for you. Did you mention one time that you were thinking of reading more of a particular author’s work? She would scavenge the tables at the semi-annual local library sale, and stash the books in that back room. You knew there would be a pile awaiting your next visit, rubber-banded and labeled with a sticky note.
My father-in-law passed away a number of years ago, and I fear I may have taken on the mantle of Disseminator of the Clippings, but with a modern twist. When I’m online, I’ll bookmark essays, recipes, funny anecdotes, or things on YouTube, and email the links to my kids. They respond with the same enthusiasm as if I’d sent them clippings: mostly I don’t hear anything back. “Yeah, I saw that. Haven’t had time to read it yet.” Or, “You sent me that one already, Mom.” I can almost hear their eyes rolling.
The other day I found an interesting-sounding recipe for matzo kugel in the San Francisco Chronicle. I know my daughter is going to a Seder this year, and I thought she might like to try making this dried fruit and matzo variation of the traditional. It seemed right up her alley. So, savvy mom that I am, I took out my iPhone, searched on sfgate.com for the recipe and emailed it to her on the spot. I even typed a short note in that box that allows you to add a personal message. I texted her about it as a follow-up. (What a noodge!) But she says it looks good and she may try to make it.
I’m following Ruth Reichl on Twitter and have passed along her tips on making a better grilled cheese sandwich, or better pancakes, something my older son would want to know. We talked about the grilled cheese article, and he allowed as how he’d read what I sent and thought her suggestions were worth a try. Putting a little shredded cheese on the outside and using a little mayo, we both agreed, sounded pretty good.
Sending stuff to my kids may elicit the sound of crickets, but, undeterred, I’m always happy to send friends links to articles on empty nests, or essays on writing, or the instructions for drinking games to play while watching “Mad Men.”
Like everyone else, I’ve grown accustomed to the ease of finding information and sharing it.
I’m not clipping, but I am clicking—and it amounts to the same thing.
Here, I thought you’d get a kick out of this:
My college roommate’s mom used to send an envelope of clippings every week. She managed to extend her mothering to both of us that way! I have found envelopes of clippings that my deceased grandmother saved…and it’s almost like she’s still here when I read her notations. Thanks for reminding me.