Skip to main content

#0997: Willa Cather to Dorothy Canfield Fisher, December 20 [1929]

More about this letter…
Plain view:

Guide to Reading Letter Transcriptions

Some of these features are only visible when "plain text" is off.

Textual Feature Appearance
passage deleted with a strikethrough mark deleted passage
passage deleted by overwritten added letters overwritten passage
passage added above the line passage with added text above
passage added on the line passage with added text inline
passage added in the margin passage with text added in margin
handwritten addition to a typewritten letter typed passage with added handwritten text
missing or unreadable text missing text noted with "[illegible]"
uncertain transcriptions word[?]
notes written by someone other than Willa Cather Note in another's hand
printed letterhead text printed text
text printed on postcards, envelopes, etc. printed text
text of date and place stamps stamped text
passage written by Cather on separate enclosure. written text
The Grosvenor
New York
Dear Dorothy1;

I feel as if I must manage to reach you at Christmas time, though I’ve no idea where you are. Forgive this dreary letter-paper - - Could anything be a better index of the dreary way in which I now live? I can’t take an apartment, you see, when I have to make two trips a year3 to California4. I’m going there again in January.

Dear Dorothy, I can’t thank you enough for the letter you wrote me from Spain5 this summer. I still have it by me. It reached me in my little house at Grand Manan6, an island about thirty-five miles out from the New Brunswick shore. I went up there immediately after the Yale Commencement7 and stayed until late in September—really got rested and began to like life again. Then I went to a place8 I often stay in New Hampshire9 and got came back to town2 in November, because I had to see my dentist, oculist10, lawyer, etc. One does have to come back to cities for some things, and it’s easiest where one has connections all ready made (I mean all ready, not already.) But as soon as I get back here, I get rather used up. The old New York of ten years ago wouldn’t The Grosvenor
New York
tire me, but the present New York - - words fail me!

Yes, that actress in Pittsburg11 was Lizzie Hudson Collier12, cousin of Willie Collier13. I wonder where she is now? She was as kind ag and good as new milk, or fresh bread. The worst of living fast and hard is that one can’t keep in touch with all the people one cared for. But the first little circle, I’ve always kept close to them. I yesterday sent off eight Christmas boxes, (very carefully chosen and bought, the contents) to as many old women on farms within 25 miles of Red Cloud14. There used to be fourteen of them (not so old, then) Swedish, Danish, German, Bohemian, Irish. In all these years, since the early Pittsburgh days, I’ve never been too poor or too busy or too sick to send them something at Christmas time. I’ve had some true lovers among them.—You see, I’d loved them first. “In her last illness she talked of you so often,” the daughters write me afterward. I live only to get back to those old friends again—as I have kept going back, winter and summer, whenever I could, for half a life-time. But you see I can’t go now, with mother15 so ill. She’s terribly jealous—it will hurt her if I even stop there.

The Grosvenor
New York

Mother’s condition changes little—has improved a trifle, they tell me. Please give my love to your mother16 if you are with her. If you and I have to become the older generation, why in mercy’s name can’t it be done without so much pain? It’s like dying twice.

Well, I honestly set out to write you a cheerful letter—things are not so bad with me; I’m quite well, for instance. Instead of a chatty letter, it’s turned out a homesick wail. I suppose my heart is always at out there at Christmas time (it is so bleak, you know; and if one can love the bleak and bare at all—why one loves it more than other things.than thisthat's all. If I take up a pen at all, I’m very apt to write what I’m thinking hardest about, so you get this queer letter, my poor Dorothy!

However, I do wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, God knows! If you are in town before the end of January, won’t you please let me know at this hotel17?

Lovingly Willa