Killeen Hanson

Summer 2013

How to be Neighborly: Checking In

Editorial photography by Britt Chudleigh.

How do we build relationships? A meditation on letter writing and small acts of remembrance.

My parents are both inveterate letter writers. Every week, almost without fail, I receive a letter from one or the other of them, full of clippings from the local hometown paper, old drawings of mine from elementary school, or twenty-dollar bills for gas money, though I’m long past asking to borrow the family car. Their letters are not particularly photogenic or calligraphic. My father’s letters come on old business letterhead. My mother, though you’d never guess it, is a pro at steaming open junk mail envelopes and stashing her own notes and clippings inside before forwarding them on. Their messages are often only a paragraph or two, just long enough to share a quick anecdote. I’m glad to know that they think of me. They’ve filled my bucket to overflowing.

Published by Kinfolk Magazine, Volume Seven, in Summer 2013. The text and published images are the property of the magazine.

You can read the full essay on