[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Priscilla Oliveras guest post for us today! Take it away Priscilla!]
Sometimes, wielding pen or pencil or plum-colored lip liner to handwrite a love note makes the best surprise!
Before emails, text messages, Instant Messenger, DMs and PMs, there was the good ol’ US Post Office, the Pony Express, ships and carriages and… probably a whole lot more modes of delivering handwritten messages that I’m missing. This is why I’m not a historical romance author, history is not one of my best Jeopardy categories. What I do know is that no matter the year, the decade or the century, love letters or letters to loved ones have been around for ages.
You can find all kinds of odes and blogs and articles with titles like “The Ten Best Love Letters” or “Famous Love Letters” that share lines written by some special, historical, influential or famous person. Google “love letters” and you’ll find plenty more.
Well, I’m not an influential or a famous or a historical figure (not yet anyway), however, I’ve penned my share of love letters, love messages, even love Post-It notes to some of the most important people in my life. I’ve also received (and saved) many that have been written to me. Why would I keep that pink, hairspray splatter stained Post-It note, you may ask? Because it holds a dear place in my heart.
So, this article isn’t an ode to the beautifully written historical love letters of all time. It’s about the value, the meaning and the beauty behind even the tiniest or shortest of missives that transcend a text message or email. You see, for many like me, handwritten notes and cards become treasures to those who receive them.
Call me sappy. Call me mushy or corny. I admittedly describe myself as all three.
When my girls were young, I’d often add a little love note in their lunch box. Or stick a message in a tennis bag before one of my daughters climbed onto her team bus. It probably said something like “You got this! Remember, 52%!” (tennis mental strategy: You only have to win 52% of the points to win the match; basically, don’t sweat a point lost, focus on the next one). I often scribbled “XOXO, Mom” on a piece of scrap paper and tucked it in their makeup bag, so they’d find it while in their dressing room backstage before a school or community theatre production. Once, I wrote “Miss you! XOXO, Mom” in plum-colored lip liner on their bathroom mirror before heading out of town for a conference.
They were little ways to let my girls know I was thinking about them, even if we were miles apart. That they were important to me. That they mattered and were valued. That even if I couldn’t be there in person, I was with them in spirit.
What’s really cool is when this expression of love carries over into their actions as adults now. Over the holidays, when my girls were home for Christmas, my papi started a part-time job. One morning, my middle daughter packed his lunch before he headed off to work. Later that evening, as I was washing out his lunch box, I couldn’t help but smile (and “awwwwww”) when I discovered the special note she’d written for her abuelo. Six weeks have passed since then, but Papi still keeps that paper in his lunch box.
Funny piece of Oliveras familia insider info: If you peek around our house, you’ll discover previous messages left and saved by several of us.
Like, a couple years ago, my middle daughter was visiting from up north. Her return flight left during the day, so that morning, I kissed her goodbye (yes, I teared up; remember my sappy, mushy admission earlier?) and headed to my day-job. That evening, when I was getting ready for bed, I tugged open my wardrobe double doors to grab my pjs and there, stuck to the inside of the left door, I found a love note she’d left me. Inside a drawer in my vanity, next to my face cream, I found another one. Over the next few days I found seven surprise notes in total!
The papers didn’t contain flowery words or prosaic poetry. They didn’t need to. What she shared with me was so much better. Simple, sweet, affirming messages like ‘You’re PHENOMENAL! I love you!” or an often-quoted line from one of our favorite children’s books, Love You Forever— “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always.” Hidden treasures I cherish.
Last fall, I was leaving for a writer’s conference at the crack of dawn while Mami and Papi were still asleep. After quietly brewing some coffee in our Keurig, I taped a little note to the microwave door in our kitchen because I knew they’d definitely see it. When I came home a few days later, on the bottom of that piece of paper, still stuck to the microwave, was a response from Papi: Ditto, Abuelo.
Get this… seven years ago, I was living in the Midwest, and I flew back home to Florida for a job interview. Unfortunately, my parents had already scheduled a trip they couldn’t cancel, or they’d lose their deposit. I arrived at an empty house, stayed the couple days needed for my interviews, then flew back before they returned. Naturally, before locking up and heading west again, I scrawled a message on their bathroom mirror in black dry erase board marker. To this day, if you go into my parents’ bathroom, the message still remains. Of course, the mirror has been cleaned— veeeeery carefully around the perimeter of my short and sweet “I ‘heart’ U! XOXO, Pris.”
The messages my familia and I leave for each other hold special meaning. Just like the final letters the Fernández sisters receive from their papi in my debut Matched to Perfection series. In book 1, His Perfect Partner, Papi gifts each of his daughters a letter, written especially for them. Those letters from Papi are seen or referenced in the next two books as a symbol of the connection the sisters maintain with their father, even after he’s gone. It’s a piece of Papi that in Her Perfect Affair, Rosa tucks into her poetry journal, the private diary filled with her hopes and dreams and fears. Yazmine’s is with her during a pivotal moment. And Papi’s words to Lilí in Their Perfect Melody are prophetic. He knew her special person (her músico, her music man) was out there waiting to find her, and Diego does (*heart eyes*).
You see, whether in my real life or the fictional ones I’ve created, the handwritten letter or note stands as tangible proof that we’re loved, cared for, and precious to someone.
This Valentine’s Day, or sometime in March or mid-June or late October… basically any or every day… find a way to leave a surprise note for a loved one. Gift them with a moment that makes their heart swell, maybe their eyes tear up or they feel that sweet sense of satisfaction, thanks to the tiny connection between the two of you.
About the Author:
Priscilla Oliveras is a USA Today bestselling author and 2018 RWA® RITA® double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Her novels have been featured in the Washington Post, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Redbook, and Publishers Weekly, amongst others. Follow her on social media and you’ll find she’s also a sports fan, beach lover, Zumba aficionado, and hammock nap connoisseur.
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