Time capsule letters

I've just got an e-mail inviting me and a bunch of other people to write a total of 18 letters, to be given to the as yet unborn daughter of an acquaintance, for her to open at the rate of one a year for her first eighteen years.

"Please reply letting me know which year you've chosen".

I just don't even know where to begin trying to describe what I think about this. I thought about posting this in All Saints but I can't imagine an answer that doesn't belong in Hell.

Tell me I'm wrong. And find a good substitute for the projectile emoticon.
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Comments

  • MrsBeakyMrsBeaky Shipmate
    Some people are just bloody weird!
    And rude, assuming one's participation in something unsolicited.

    It's got the same pressured feeling as chain letters- and I HATE them!
  • There's a great Scottish tradition. Buy a barrel of whisky, which is then stored to be opened and bottled when they turn 18 (or, sometimes 21).
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    I find it creepy also (the letters, not the whisky).
  • There's your letter: telling the yet-to-be-18 year old where to locate their whiskey.
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    Lol - good idea! Just don't tell anyone that that is what is in the letter!

    To me, it makes sense to ask grandparents to do something like that or maybe Godparents or even a special aunt. In no way should anyone be expected to do it. To me, it needs a discussion with the family in person to decide on who will do a letter or not. I've seen where people who have a life-threatening illness do a series of letters for their children and that makes a lot of sense to me. But it can also produce a lot of pressure.
  • NicoleMRNicoleMR Shipmate
    It seems sort of weird and pointless. They'll end up with 18 letters all about 2018. What's the point of that? And one a year? How's she even going to understand the one for age one, or two, or three?
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    And the possibility that at the age of 10, she'll end up with a rather personal letter from someone much older than her whom she might not even know.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    LeRoc wrote: »
    And the possibility that at the age of 10, she'll end up with a rather personal letter from someone much older than her whom she might not even know.

    She may well find this downright intrusive and creepy. I wouldn't touch it with the proverbial.
  • Lily Pad wrote: »
    To me, it makes sense to ask grandparents to do something like that or maybe Godparents or even a special aunt. In no way should anyone be expected to do it.

    Yes, I have been asked to do this for my grandchildren, and am glad to do so. But would not feel comfortable joining in with something for other people's children.

  • Bit presumptuous, isn't it? If they're not giving you a choice to opt in, but assuming you'd want to do something so unusual and personal?

    You could always reply by saying: 'Hey, what a really useful idea! I bagsy anything between 7 and 10. You're never too young to be told about sex, right?!' (insert revolving devil/angel emoticon here)
  • I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling this is weird. Much of what's above applies - chain letter was my first thought too.

    I also agree with @Lily Pad about the pressure. The email came from the mum-to-be's sister but I suspect the instigator was her sister-in-law, who AFAICS married in to the 'famous evangelical' family on a power trip.

    After thinking about it some more, I identified part of my unease as being due to the fact that one would be writing to an unknown, indeed as yet non-existing (DH specifics aside) person; as a result, the letter is likely more to be about oneself than the recipient, who is very much objectified.
  • @Anselmina :lol: I was wondering about variations on this, but I strongly suspect, given the protagonists, that the letters will be heavily vetted...
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    I'd be very tempted to do the Mark Twain trick, and simply write ( for their 18th) "They have found out. Run."
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    @Anselmina :lol: I was wondering about variations on this, but I strongly suspect, given the protagonists, that the letters will be heavily vetted...

    At about the age of 15 it would be a good time to own their own faith. In preparation for Confirmation you could provide some recommended reading. Some selected works from the Jesus Seminar, the works of John Shelby Spong, David Jenkins ...
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    "Why I Am Not a Christian" might be a bridge too far for Eutychus, but I'd include it!
  • Hah. Any good feminist literature to recommend, Ruth? I think that would really put the cat among these particular pigeons...
  • FirenzeFirenze Shipmate
    ‘Dear Semolina, I include with my letter A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecroft, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. By age 12 you should really have these under your belt. Come back to me for further reading. Yrs sincerely, Uncle Eutycus.
  • Actually the potential for subversion here is making me entertain the idea of writing something all about empowerment and escaping from the clutches of a patriarchal mindset. Even if it gets censored it might make the censors think...

    It's either that or sending a purity ring.
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    Lol - go for it! I'd think you could write a proper letter and then include a small card with directions only to be opened by her. Then in that one, you could write whatever you wanted.
  • Doc TorDoc Tor Hell Host
    Not a Purity ring. But you could spring for some other, er, body jewellery.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited March 2018
    Um, no, I'm with @sionisais on the intrusive and creepy. But @Lily Pad you are giving me all sorts of Shawshank Redemption ideas.

    I guess the problem would be if I wanted to change what I wrote between now and whenever.
  • Yeah, it does sound weird for acquaintances to ask this of you.

    ...but...

    If you were to write a letter, you could do something like "hi. you matter. never give up. if you're overwhelmed, spend some quiet time in nature (or "God's creation"). do 1 good thing today.", etc.

    Basically, you're being one of the good fairies present at a fairy-tale princess's presentation/ naming/ christening. Always happens that there are both good fairies and bad, each pronouncing blessings/curses over the baby's life. The wiser good fairies hold back one or two good fairies to counter-balance any curses.
  • I would consider enthusiastically picking a year, and then never getting around to writing the letter. Every time you are reminded be more and more enthusiastic, but never ever produce the letter.
  • We're supposed to send our letter for the chosen year ahead of time. Ugh, the more I think about this the creepier it gets.
  • North East QuineNorth East Quine Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    This is a weird idea. You would be writing to a completely unknown person. I could imagine writing a fairly safe paragraph about how you know their parents or wider family, but after that? What if, by the time the letter is due to be delivered, the parents are divorced? What if the child is going through some sort of difficulty (thinking of a child I know who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, or another who had surgery for scoliosis, for example) and your letter was completely inappropriate for that stage in their life?

    Write it, and tell the parents that you have been careful to make it a gender-neutral letter, in case their child transitions in their teens.
  • @North East Quine I think I'm going to be refraining from writing anything, not least because of some of the what-ifs you mention. I have to confess I hadn't got as far as considering the options in your last paragraph, though. Again I think the vetters would probably have a heart attack if I were to point out this possibility to them.

    It's bad enough when parents try to control their own kids' destinies (one of my daughters also got the e-mail and was relieved not to be alone in thinking it weird, and we got on to chatting about this aspect). It's creepier still when it's other family members and inlaws trying to do so.
    I could imagine writing a fairly safe paragraph about how you know their parents or wider family
    Also this. I wonder if the actual subconscious aim is not actually the baby at all but affirmation of the mother-to-be (that "culture of honor" thing, :projectile: ). In fact the dad-to-be doesn't get a mention at all. I've known the mum-to-be virtually from her birth; I don't know if a parallel invite has gone out to the dad-to-be but I suspect not, because the baby is a girl. Or something. Eww.

  • Curiosity killedCuriosity killed Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    edited March 2018
    The other assumptions are that this baby will be born, and is healthy and will be be to read this letter, not blind, hasn't suffered a life changing illness or accident by the time a letter arrives. Lots of presumption on the part of the mother-to-be that she's going to give birth to a perfect baby that fits her expectations - that's what's creepy.

    (Said by a parent whose daughter was in a wheelchair at 14-15, and we were dealing with a whole lot of other issues. Another friend's daughter died from an infection while suffering from childhood leukaemia. I'm sure other Shipmates could give examples.)
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited March 2018
    Yes @Curiosity killed , that was very much in my thinking. I wonder if it isn't also unconsciously some kind of good luck charm attempt.

    (Note it's not the mother-to-be that's asking for this, but immediate family/in-law).
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    Eutychus, you are thinking way too hard about this. And NEQ, that is a brilliant point.
  • Obsessive, moi?
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    There's your letter: telling the yet-to-be-18 year old where to locate their whiskey.

    Excellent idea :mrgreen:

  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    I'd be very tempted to do the Mark Twain trick, and simply write ( for their 18th) "They have found out. Run."

    I thought that was Sherlock Holmes. He sent the telegram to all his suspects to see which one did run.
  • I should Google before I post. Arthur Conan Doyle apparently told a story along these lines as did Mark Twain and several other versions are about but Sherlock Holmes didn't send it.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    I keep wondering what the soon-to-be kid is going to make of this (getting a letter on her birthday from some adult she may or may not know). I can imagine her at, say, age 14, with the fam the night before the Big Day, and being requested to read that year's missive aloud at the dinner table. I foresee tears and much door-slamming in this girl's future. (Does that make me the evil fairy with the curse?)
  • I wonder if the person who e-mailed you thought that they had had a Brilliant Idea and e-mailed before they had thought it through? The parents might not actually want it.
  • It has the apparent gloss of being a great idea. But the devil's in the detail of executing it. No doubt there might be a way of getting something like this right; keeping things as bland and general, and open-referenced as possible. But just too much to go wrong, or be wildly inappropriate come the moment of opening the envelope! I suppose an alternative is to find something tested by time - some kind of desiderata or famous quotation/speech that you could say you're passing on as having been useful to you?
  • Lily PadLily Pad Shipmate
    I feel like there should be a party just for doing this where the people making letters get together and write them in person and/or read them or share thoughts and divvy up who is going to tackle what. Perhaps @Eutychus you could write back and ask when this is going to be held and let on that you presume that they are the hosts and will provide the supplies and suitable quotes to include. :)
  • Lily Pad wrote: »
    I feel like there should be a party just for doing this where the people making letters get together and write them in person and/or read them or share thoughts and divvy up who is going to tackle what.
    Dear God no. More nightmare fuel.
  • Firenze wrote: »
    ‘Dear Semolina,

    Such a perfect name for the child, that cheered me right up. Whatever her real name is, any letter really must be addressed thus!

  • Lily Pad wrote: »
    I feel like there should be a party just for doing this where the people making letters get together and write them in person and/or read them or share thoughts and divvy up who is going to tackle what. Perhaps @Eutychus you could write back and ask when this is going to be held and let on that you presume that they are the hosts and will provide the supplies and suitable quotes to include. :)

    If they went for something along the lines of what's been suggested here, it could be great fun actually. Give prizes for the funniest or most intentionally inappropriate. In my family, special honors would go for sheer banal randomness: "your Uncle Tim has a hole in his left sock".

    If your guests are creative enough to come up with truly fun non-sequitors, you might even be able to turn the annual reading of the letters from a dreaded, awkward obligation to a fun tradition

  • JonahManJonahMan Shipmate
    Another possibility would be to do it like consequences - each person writes one line, folds it over and passes on to the next person, and so on. The completed screeds are then assigned a random year in which to reveal their brilliance, relevance or (just possibly) utter nonsense.
  • If your guests are creative enough to come up with truly fun non-sequitors, you might even be able to turn the annual reading of the letters from a dreaded, awkward obligation to a fun tradition
    I really don't think that would go down well with the protagonists.

  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    "I think it is now the time that you are told who your real father is. The man you have grown up with doesn't know anything about this, so don't tell him."

    What an idiotic idea. As others have said, you cannot write meaningfully to someone you don't know, at a time in the future (which may be in any state). The chances are, it would be irrelevant (at best), and utterly inappropriate (at worst).
  • JonahMan wrote: »
    Another possibility would be to do it like consequences - each person writes one line, folds it over and passes on to the next person, and so on. The completed screeds are then assigned a random year in which to reveal their brilliance, relevance or (just possibly) utter nonsense.

    yes! Now we're onto something!
  • Firenze wrote: »
    ‘Dear Semolina, I include with my letter A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecroft, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. By age 12 you should really have these under your belt. Come back to me for further reading. Yrs sincerely, Uncle Eutycus.

    Also "Why I want a Wife" by Judith Viorst.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    How about "Dear Ermyntrude, Enclosed please find your very own set of personalised silver-and-onyx rosary beads"? That should not only send the con-evo parents running for the hills, but probably knock you off their Christmas card list as well.

    :naughty:
  • Ohher--
    Ohher wrote: »
    I keep wondering what the soon-to-be kid is going to make of this (getting a letter on her birthday from some adult she may or may not know). I can imagine her at, say, age 14, with the fam the night before the Big Day, and being requested to read that year's missive aloud at the dinner table. I foresee tears and much door-slamming in this girl's future. (Does that make me the evil fairy with the curse?)

    Yes. Yes, it does. ;) But the curse may be more on her parents than on her!

    I'll counter with a blessing. May the girl's adolescence be smooth, safe, and happy. May her parents and extended family love her, and be graced with good sense. If any of that fails, may good counseling be found and put to use.

  • Eutychus--

    When I've heard of this thing before, it's been because a parent or other relative is expected to die before the child gets to know them. The adult writes letters, or makes audio/video recordings, and they're kept for the kid.

    Eutychus, any chance someone is thinking the parents might not be around, and wants other people to fill in with this kind of support? I mean, it should be done by the parents, in that case, but...

    :confused:

    Oh, and it just occurred to me: The instigator, whoever that is, might put the letters online, at some point. Especially if, as you mentioned, a "famous evangelical family" is involved

    :eek:
  • Golden Key wrote: »
    Eutychus--
    Eutychus, any chance someone is thinking the parents might not be around, and wants other people to fill in with this kind of support? I mean, it should be done by the parents, in that case, but...

    "Hello future person, here are my memories of your parents from before you were born" might be a nice letter to have in that case - but the one-per-year setup is a bit weird.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    This whole scheme reminds me of dreams which morphed into a semi-"inspiration" as I awakened -- and which, upon attempted explanation or execution, dissolved into complete incoherence. There's a germ of meaning here, but the nut that holds the wheel fell off somewhere . . .
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