Here is a letter I wrote (and obviously never sent) to my poor pen pal in Soviet occupied Lithuania at the age of eight.
I bet you love picking amber by the shores of the Baltic Sea, but also sad because you are not allowed to pray or attend Holy Mass. I have a Lithuanian national costume and am getting ready for February 16th. I go to Lithuanian (school) and have not forgotten how to speak Lithuanian yet. When I come home from school I usually wash my hands and have a snack. Then I go watch some TV. My favorite game is “Barbie Dolls.” You see, they are little dolls that have very-”
And I just left it at that. Now that I’m re-reading it, I’m glad I never sent it out. There are a lot of things wrong with this letter, like the fact that I’m talking about celebrating Lithuania’s Independence Day in my national costume when it’s a fact that Rita herself cannot (maybe I meant to re-assure her that we Lithuanians in America were still holding up the fort). Or that I’m compelled to mention I haven’t forgotten how to speak Lithuanian yet – I’m willing to bet Rita wasn’t losing any sleep over that. And the Barbies. What was I trying to do, send her into a jealous rage?
We used to always have to write letters to the Poor Children of Lithuania Who Could Not Attend Holy Mass, even though we secretly thought they were pretty darn lucky on that count. It was hard not to sound all gloaty, like we had it all (TV, afternoon snacks, Barbies, soap) when we were always being told that the Children of Lithuania had to do without.
When I wrote this letter, I didn’t honestly believe that Rita (whoever she is) would ever live in a free Lithuania. I hope she’s having a lovely life.Subscribe to the blog. (It's free!)