Guest post: The power of a good aunt’s pen

Today marks the second guest post for the Good Aunt series. I’d like to introduce you to my friend Tracey Finck and her gem of a book called Love Letters to a Child. She’ll encourage you to tap into your inner Jane Austen (an aunt who loved to write books but also wrote loving letters to her nieces and nephews).

Tracey Finck, photo by Beverly Johnson

To all you good aunts out there, this book makes a great gift for parents and grandparents, but pick up a copy for yourself, too. Finck’s suggestions and wisdom can translate to nieces and nephews and other important children in your life. You may even feel inspired – as I have – to keep a journal for adults who need to hear your “love letters” to them, too.

Just a reminder that the “Thank your good aunt” contest is still going on, and if you win, you could choose to receive Love Letters to a Child as your prize. So get those entries in that describe a wonderful woman in your life who deserves a letter of love from you. And now, here’s Tracey:


My friend Kathy vividly remembers a particular day – way back in junior high – when she was going through a miserable stage of life. It must have shown on her face, because a friendly teacher scribbled a little note and secretly handed it to her during class. The note simply said “Choose to smile.” Kathy glanced up at the teacher and saw sincere encouragement smiling back at her. Kathy did smile, and it actually helped her feel better. That small act of loving attention meant so much to her that Kathy has held on to that note – red pen on yellow paper – all these years.

The pen is mightier than the sword. It can change the world. And it can change the way a child or teenager thinks.

One way to be a good aunt and bless a child you love would be to write a note or a card or a letter. You might even keep a notebook or journal celebrating a special ongoing relationship with a niece or nephew. Continue reading

Guest post: The great good aunt

Today marks the beginning of a series of guest bloggers writing about the good aunt. In the post below, you’ll get to meet an amazing author and friend of mine, Jerel Law. He’s going to tell you about his sister-in-law, who isn’t just a good aunt. She’s a great good aunt.

Jerel is the author of Spirit Fighter, the first in the Jonah Stone: Son of Angels series. For all you good aunts, uncles, moms and dads out there, this is a great read for ages 10 to 14 (but I also think it’s a great read for anyone older, too). Fire Prophet, the second book in the series, is due out this December.

Jerel and his son Christopher at a recent book signing

Just a reminder that the “Thank your good aunt” contest is still going on, and if you win, you could choose to receive Spirit Fighter as your prize. So get those entries in. And now, here’s Jerel:


I’m grateful that Hope asked me to contribute to the Good Aunt series. I’ve had some terrific aunts in my life, and my children have some now. I want to tell you about one in particular, though – my sister-in-law, Dana. I want to share with you what it is that makes her a very, very special aunt. And to understand that, you need to know something about our last couple of years. Continue reading

The good aunt and thank yous

Today was the first day of school here where I live. I know some of you had your first day of school earlier in the summer, and others won’t send the kids back until next week. Those of you who don’t have children to pack off to school may still find yourselves reacting to the changes all around you: driving to work through hectic school zones, shopping among the back-to-school frenzy or even gearing up for the last month of the quarter at work.

Trust me, I know this is a busy season for many of you. So thank you for taking the time to drop by my blog today. I’ve got an exciting contest to announce at the end of today’s post, and I’m thrilled you get to hear all about it first.

Today’s theme is all about thank yous. Show of hands: how many of you learned to write thank you notes at an early age? My mom always made sure that by the end of Christmas break, we had written thank you notes for every gift we received from someone other than close family. Birthday thank you notes didn’t have such a hard-and-fast deadline, but my mom still made sure we wrote them in a timely manner.

Continue reading

The good aunt and baby showers

A diaper cake at the last baby shower I hosted

When I was interviewing women for this series, I ended with this question: “How many baby showers have you attended?” Maybe this wasn’t a fair question, because I can only give a guesstimate of the number of baby showers I’ve attended (maybe 30 or 40?). I’ve hosted four and attended countless others, including work showers for male co-workers whose wives were having babies.

What I had intended as a light question at the end of the interview turned into some of the most heartfelt remarks during the interviews.

Let me begin with their initial responses from each, categorized by the women’s ages (by decade): Continue reading

The good aunt’s legacy

What is a good aunt’s legacy? What does a woman without children leave behind in the world?

One of the women I spoke with wants to make sure her American niece knew the Nancy the Spider (or Anansi) stories that she inherited from her African background. Another spoke of her struggle over not having somebody to pass material things down to, saying with a bit of relief, “That’s where my nieces come in.” Others spoke of the way they are teaching nieces and nephews to carry on other family traditions: baking together or learning to cook a family recipe, going on family vacations together, and passing on the stories of past generations.

For those of us without children who have family heirlooms and traditions we want to pass down, this issue of heirs can be something that weighs on our minds. What will be our legacy when we’re gone?

Elizabeth Gilbert writes:

In leaving no descendents, [sic] however, childless aunts do tend to
vanish from memory after a mere generation, quickly forgotten, their
lives as transitory as butterflies. But they are vital as they live, and they
can even be heroic. … Often able to accrue education and resources
precisely because they were childless, these women had enough spare
income and compassion to pay for livesaving operations, or to rescue
the family farm, or to take in a child whose mother had fallen gravely ill. (Committed, 192) Continue reading