04 Mar
Chain Letters Without a Curse


My mother saved pretty boxes from chocolates, baby shoes, lingerie, and cigars. I still have some of them tucked, here and there, in my home. It takes time to savor the contents of these special containers, so whenever I come across one, I put it aside, until I have time to properly satisfy my curiosity.


Some time ago, I opened a box containing over twenty beautiful hankies. My mother rarely used her prettiest hankies, but I remember sitting on her bed when I was a child and looking at each lovely bit of fabric. These beautiful and useful hankies had been boxed for decades.

I hadn’t noticed then, but attached to each hanky, with a straight pin, was a bit of paper torn from an envelope or notebook. Written on each scrap of paper, in different penmanship, was the name of a person, a town, and a province.

One paper is dated September 23, 1946, and reads:

Dear Friend,

I received your name in a hanky-club chain letter.


Marie Miller

With this chain letter, there were no promises for a financial windfall or threats of bad luck. It simply provided a way to build a collection of pretty things, while receiving mail from all over the country. I love the purity of intent in these early chain letters. I remember participating in a postcard chain letter when I was a child. It was such fun to receive postcards from all over the world.

My mother’s hankies are now washed, pressed, and stored in my special drawer. I believe beautiful things should be enjoyed. I will put some to good use as tea napkins, and others will be used to polish my eyeglasses. I often carry a pretty, lace-edged hanky in my purse to wipe away a tear or catch a sneeze. These beautiful, but strong, bits of silk, linen, and cotton were meant to bring pleasure to the ordinary moments in life. I am sure that they will withstand frequent laundering. Each time they make me smile, they will have come a little closer to achieving their reason for being. 

Comments (4)

  • Mitzi Gold
    March 5, 2014 at 03:11 pm

    Aloha Maureen: I treasure my mom's and grandma's hankies and have them in a special place in my vanity. I always get such a warm rush in my heart when I come across them. A connection to a time past and to the love from my mom and grammie. Thanks for your memories! Hugs, Mitzi

  • Lorraine Forster
    March 5, 2014 at 05:02 am

    Dear Maureen, Thank you for sharing, you have inspired me to go "poke" thorough my 'Mom' collection- I was very foolish for not saving more of her "treasures" but the ones I do have I hold dearly to my heart and someday they will become Aurelie, Hannah & Tristan's. Wishing you well-Lorraine

  • Isabelle Mills
    March 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I still have a box of hankies I have been given. I think I gave away the most beautiful ones. You have inspired me to bring them out, launder them, and look at them again and again.

  • Myrna Wilson
    March 4, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Beauty and simplicity, how I treasure these things and am truly grateful for! This sharing of time passing and connections moved me to tears!

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