A ladies' organization in our town is collecting letters to send to a unit of soldiers overseas. I've contributed a few cards, because I've seen the pleas in the paper and it's increasingly clear to me that the people collecting the letters are making a strong connection between "number of letters collected" and "whether anyone could care less whether these soldiers live or die," and are getting themselves very upset about the town's apparent lack of feeling/caring, and I'd like to help alleviate that. But they've failed to take into account the more likely explanation in situations like this (where one group is begging another group to take action but failing to get the desired response), which is that people care very much whether the soldiers live or die, but don't think the letter-writing thing is such a great idea.
I'm in that group, as you have cleverly surmised. If I knew a soldier overseas, I would BOMBARD him or her with letters. But I suspect anonymous letters from strangers to "Any Soldier" are less heartening/pleasing---especially when the letters are wrung from a public being pressured to send them. "Here, we've bought the cards, and we're paying the postage! All you have to do is sign your name to one of them! You don't even need to write anything! You don't even have to use your real name!!"
I'm also remembering back when I was in high school and got involved with a big Christmas-cards-to-soldiers campaign. I sent out a whole bunch of cards, and I got a whole bunch of replies, and almost every single reply took the conversation in a sexual direction right away---sometimes for pages and pages. One guy, after a couple of letter exchanges (mine: prim Christian schoolgirl persevering in my earnest attempt to bring homefront comfort to soldiers; his: continuing to ask about the color of my underwear and what size bra I wear) said that they had a bet going among the soldiers in his building to see who could get a woman to mail a pair of underpants first.
That's the sort of thing that sticks in my mind when I imagine writing a letter to build up the morale of a soldier. It's the sort of thing that makes me think a pile of earnest floral notecards from middle-aged women is a waste of everyone's good intentions---and possibly the kind of sepia-toned fantasy (homesick upstanding young man reading letter by lantern in army tent; the music swells as we see the tears beginning to shine in his eyes; he fights on with a renewed sense of the love of the homefront he yearns to protect) that shouldn't be indulged. So although I filled out a few cards to please the people collecting them, I also went out and bought Twizzlers, Skittles, a Best of Saturday Night Live DVD, foot powder, lip balm, instant energy-drink powder, an electronic Solitaire game with batteries, floss, pens, and baby wipes, to please the actual soldiers. (Though I did not include a pair of underpants THIS time, EITHER.) It's possible these things, too, will be wrong: as I was shopping I was wondering if maybe they already get lip balm and foot powder easily, and if they have whole video game systems and don't really need a primitive handheld. I think this is why it works better to mail things to people we know, who can tell us what they need/want. But either way, these things will please the people trying to do nice things for the soldiers, the ones who are nervous that lack of response to their idea means bad things.
New on the review blog: Through November 4th, Unilever (Degree, Dove, Suave) deodorant for tweens, with a $100 Visa gift card giveaway. The entry question is how old were you when you started using deodorant, and/or how old were your kids. (I like to make the prompt something that I'm interested in hearing the answer to, since I'll be reading a few hundred of them!)
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...