For Mom’s eightieth birthday in April, my sister, Marie, and I hatched a plan to celebrate. Mom is semi-house-bound due to arthritis, so going out is typically unpleasant and difficult. She reads a lot and follows sports and politics on-line.

I told Marie that I would write to mom’s favorite sports icon if Marie would write to her favorite political leader. We would tell them what a big fan mom is and request a birthday card from them to mom.

My sister greatly expanded the plan. She sent letters and e-mails to thirty of Mom’s favorite authors, bloggers, actors and political leaders. As a result, letters and e-mail greetings have been rolling in.

Mom got a birthday card from the president and first lady, from her book group’s favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver (The Lacuna and Poisonwood Bible, another favorite author, Abaraham Vergheese (Cutting for Stone) and her favorite blogger, Marco Maulitsas (“The Daily Kos”).

Last week, she was thrilled when the mail arrived containing a large envelope bedecked with postage stamps of Queen Elizabeth and post-marked London, England. Colin Firth (who recently won the Oscar for The King’s Speech”) sent her a signed photograph.

Of all the birthday projects we’ve ever done, this has been the most fun. What a hoot. And I almost never use the word, “hoot”!

Karen Louise (Mar.’11) adds, “A few years ago, we had a big surprise party for my parents’ 50th Anniversary. It was a logistical nightmare to find a date that worked for everyone and getting all kinds of travel arrangements made. This letter-writing project was much easier to pull off.”


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