The Envelope Years

The Envelope Years

Three of my friends and I accidentally stumbled upon what has turned into a wonderful annual tradition. Five years ago, Kirstin was about to move to another state, so we decided to go on a camping trip in Steamboat Springs for a fun going away hoorah. After dinner one night, around the campfire and after a certain many hours of drinking, we decided to each write our goals on a piece of paper; goals we wanted to accomplish for the upcoming year. We then put them in envelopes, wrote our names and addresses on them and exchanged them, with the intention of sending them to each other in a year’s time. It was an emotional weekend because we were surely going to miss our friend, and we all seemed to be going through so many changes during that time, so the bonding we did that weekend was fairly intense. But what memories we created, and what fun we had! Steamrolling in the tent, dancing in front of the camera for a very spontaneous photo blitz, and getting into those deep and personal conversations I tend to love so much.

Well, lo and behold, a year later Kirstin flew back to Denver for a visit and when we got together we gave each other the envelopes we’d been holding for a year. Each of us opened them one at a time and read the goals out loud, mostly laughing at how far off the mark we had been, or “what was I thinking??” I know for me, I wasn’t really expecting anything to come out of this experiment so my goals were very vague and not at all detailed; perhaps everyone else’s goals were a bit unrealistic as well. But after we read our goals that second year and began to write new ones for the upcoming year, I think we were all much more thoughtful about what we wanted since it was looking like this just might become an annual event! But it’s not about winning or losing; it’s become more about bonding with friends and supporting each other as we enter this new age of our lives.

The last gathering was in October of 2010 – our five year anniversary! It’s become so special for all of us and there was even talk of taking it to Paris for our tenth anniversary! At the end of last year, Amy moved to North Carolina, so for the first time, the Envelope Group will be traveling outside of Colorado. I have no idea what my latest goals were, but that’s the beauty: instead of adding items on a to-do list and busting our butts trying to make them happen, we’re writing down what we want, throwing them to the universe and watching things unfold in a year’s time. For Christmas I sent everyone a little photo album with a few photos I had of each year along with Amy’s quick refresher on each year’s highlights:

The Envelope Years!

  1. (2006) Steamboat Lake – big tent, steamrolling, booze, tears
  2. (2007) Lime Restaurant – bad service
  3. (2008) Amy’s wedding – hotel room with non-pact members
  4. (2009) Theresa’s condo in Edwards – octoberfest, lederhosen, cupcakes for dawn
  5. (2010) Lola’s Restaurant – amy excited to drink, kirstin’s card from last year was jibberish, half the group is over forty.

I’ve never been this old before, but I am now very aware of how people get to their mid-thirties and forties and lose connections with their friends. I recall it happening after high school, but for different reasons. I’m so grateful for my friends and their determination to keep this tradition alive. I’ve even attempted to start a few other traditions with other groups of friends as well. Christa and I (the other half of the Envelope Group who still lives in Denver) get together once a month to make soup. I have monthly brunches with another group of friends to talk about the current challenges we’re facing and offer endless amounts of advice and support to each other. The more connections I can keep, the deeper the relationships and the more vital they become. I cherish my friends and try to never take those relationships for granted. And fun memories aren’t just for the years in high school and post-college partying. I plan to make new memories with all my friends for as long as I can and keep the traditions alive!


  1. Kirstin

    I am lucky to be an envelope pal AND highly recommend Dawn as a coach. She will listen to you for your greatness!

  2. Great blog Dawn! You do have a great drive to keep it alive. Dawn has made every trip, brunch, walk & hang out memorable for me. You have a unique way of making sense of life and have helped me hugely to not sweat the small stuff!

  3. those mighty envelopes have witnessed many changes from this pact member. they saw me go from being a yoyo dater to a wife, mother and born-again Southerner. how did this happen, amy from 2006?

  4. kelly prendergast

    Loved your write up. You really have a nice way with words. And what fine tradition to share.

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