Abraham Lincoln

Dear Pamela,

I found this cool, small company called Litographs based in Boston. I was impressed that besides printing very unique shirts, etc. with words, they also encourage reading and donate books to communities. In addition, when I ordered the shirts, they were donating all of their proceeds for two days to Black Lives Matter.

So, at the very beginning of June, I ordered a Lincoln t-shirt for myself—for my birthday—and one for you—who I will name as my “Lincoln buddy.” The words printed on the shirt are President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

We have talked about our respect for this simple man, a leader who displayed so many honorable attributes. There is so much going on now with Black Lives Matter and part of the process is figuring out who in history was working hard enough for equal rights for people of color. After a lot of thought, I think Abraham Lincoln is a figure who moved us in the direction toward the equality we are still working so hard to attain. In my mind, Lincoln would have been the first to say that he was an imperfect human being. I’d like to think that if his life had not been cut short, he would have continued to learn from others to remedy those imperfections.

Anyway, I ordered the shirts in size Large because they said they run small. After two weeks, they arrived. Too small!! So I sent them back and reordered XL. I received them on Friday: one was beautiful and one had a printing fault. I contacted Litographs right away and received a beautiful apology from the CEO with the promise that a new shirt would be on its way in a week. Wow, that’s customer service!

I decided not to wait to give you your shirt. Originally, you shirt was going to be purple and mine was going to be blue—but now we’re swapped. They are both beautiful so it doesn’t matter. I hope you enjoy yours.

Love,

Judy

Play-Doh

Dear Pamela

When you told me the other day that you had stashed small give-away containers of Play-Doh in your Little Neighborhood Free Library, I knew that all would eventually be right with the world. I know this because Play-Doh, that malleable blob of vibrant color from my childhood, always gave me permission to empty my mind and make something surprisingly uncomplicated, personal and creative.

I wonder…

Do the recipients of your gift emit a cry of victory when finally prying off the snug-fitting lid? Does the Doh still bounce slightly when it falls from container to the table top? Does that first whiff assault your senses and sear a memory in your mind forever? Does absent-minded pushing and pressing without a plan suddenly reveal an unforetold creation?

As a child, I loved Play-Doh because I didn’t need to have a plan. Something would always emerge if I let it. In a young life full of rules and expectations, that made a difference. Unconsciously, I would empty my mind when I emptied the Play Doh container. My mind on Play-Doh went blank like I was gazing out of a car window on an endless family drive. With a one-handed squish, I knew, with total certainty that my ideas would emerge.

It’s no surprise that Play-Doh (or an occasional homemade imposter) became a fixture in my home when my own kids were young. Squeals of delight filled the room when, as a teacher, I doled out canisters of Play-Doh; an invitation to wipe the slate clean and stop planning and thinking if only for a moment during a demanding school day.

And now, dear Pamela, knowing that you fill your community library with little canisters of Play-Doh, I experience pure joy. What could be better during a pandemic and a time of national reckoning? Right now, kids and adults alike need permission to clear their minds, wipe the slate clean and create something beautiful and new. Play-Doh could help.

Love, Judy