Thursday, November 22, 2007

Keeping In Touch With Old Friends

I just remembered I'm supposed to send in the update for my annual nursing class newsletter by this Saturday. We cleverly (or not so) named it the NUSletter (for Nursing Undergrad Society).

If I remember correctly – and I may be completely wrong -- the idea was borne out of one of our last class get-togethers when we were waxing nostalgic and wondering if we'd ever see each other again. We decided a yearly newsletter would be a terrific idea -- we could all send brief letters telling our classmates what we'd been up to for the year. We chose October 31 (Halloween) as the yearly submission date, figuring it was an easy date to remember. One of our most dedicated and organized classmates (Sue) volunteered to be the recipient and compiler. We got her address, dutifully gave her our addresses and promised to update her with address changes. So it began.

Back in the early seventies, we sent typewritten (preferably) letters to Sue. She then took all the letters and re-typed them into one document, made copies and mailed them out to everyone. The logisitics were worked out as we went along - self-addressed envelopes, donations for postage and stationery. Thinking back on it, it was an enormous amount of work and I think Sue was the only one who could have pulled it off.

It wasn't until years later, when most people had computers and email accounts, that the procedure was streamlined (a bit). With the advent of email, those of us with computers sent Sue our yearly news in text or Word documents. She then cut and pasted most of the newsletter from whatever people sent her. It made for interesting reading because almost everyone used different fonts, type-sizes and formatting.

Over the years, people moved, had children, changed jobs, moved again. We lost track of a few from the group – some quite early on. Some members drifted in and out, submitting something one year, then not the next. I'm guilty of the latter. Some years, I'd send a letter, others I didn't. There didn't seem enough of interest to write about. At least nothing I thought to be read-worthy. How many times can you say, D is in grade 4 now (grade 5, grade 6, grade 7, etc.) and listing activities and job changes without it sounding like some of those dreaded Christmas form letters? But maybe it didn't really matter because I enjoyed reading news from others, no matter how much the same from year to year.

The date for submissions gradually drifted later into the year. It's no longer Halloween and I'm not sure why. Yet, through it all, there has been a core group that always submits something and it's been wonderful following the progression of their lives. Some are retired, others contemplating retirement. In the early years, the news was about young children and parenthood, now it's more about new grandchildren.

But back to this year's newsletter. One of our classmates (Bev) thought it might be easier and more efficient to keep in touch via a private FaceBook group. I think it's a great idea. Bev set up a group, sent out emails to everyone on our mailing list and invited everyone to join. Alas, only a handful have joined. Apparently, many aren't familiar with FaceBook and/or have trouble with the interface. There wasn't enough time to get everyone comfortably onto the site before this year's deadline.

So for this year, at least, we're doing it the old way: attach Word documents to emails for Sue to compile and for her to send back as an attachment. And yes, Sue is still doing the same job. It's hard to believe it's been going on for thirty-odd years.

Well, it's time for me to get busy and write my letter. I look forward to receiving everyone else's news.

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