OK. This confirms my fears. Today marked the 3rd day this week that I went to the post office box to pick up the mail and found it empty. No super-sized slick highlighting my local politician. No store flyer advertising the great deals I could be taking advantage of. Nothing. Nada. Not even a bill! Not even when we are approaching an election and the Labor Day holiday weekend. I’m starting to worry that my important mail is sitting in a dead mail basket somewhere in Kansas. The alternative is that snail mail is really on its way out, as “they” have been predicting.
I’m no fan of junk mail, and I certainly don’t support swapping trees for paper just for me to recycle. But there’s something nostalgic about real mail. If you are of my generation, you remember the art of letter writing. They used to sell something called stationery which was fancy paper that you could write a letter on. You used a pen and wrote it by hand. Then you put it in an envelope, carefully addressed it, stamped it, and mailed it. Then you waited several days for your friend to receive it, and several more days for your friend to respond, by mail.
When you wrote a letter, you offered up your half of a whole conversation that you would have over time. You poured out your soul, reported the news, gossiped, or just said hello to an old friend. Or maybe you wrote a thank-you note to your Aunt Sue for that $5 that she sent you for your birthday. Letters home from camp. Letters from your college dorm room, including pictures of the crazy times you were having. Love letters to your new beau. Birthday cards with letters enclosed.
Sometimes, you even took the time to decorate the envelope. They used to sell sealing wax and seals, which were really cool. The sealing wax was like a candle that you lit and dripped onto the back of the envelope, and then pressed your seal into the liquid wax before it cooled. It make an impression in the wax that sealed the envelope. Mine was a flower. I still have the seal somewhere, but I don’t know if you can even buy sealing wax any more.
Now we have moved on to email, texting and Face Time or Skype. Instantaneous communication. I remember thinking in wonder when my dad would talk of the possibility of future “picture phones” when I was a kid. HA! If he only knew! We think nothing of firing off a few words to someone. The old anticipation of watching for the mailman, and waiting day by day for that letter to arrive has been replaced by checking your phone for that text you’ve waited an expansive 3 seconds for.
Sure, it’s convenient to be able to communicate instantaneously, and in some instances, such as an emergency, it’s vital. But I do miss the act of writing a long letter, and receiving one in return. I miss choosing the spot I would go to open that letter and enjoy it. I miss choosing the stationery and the perfect pen for the occasion, and the decorating of the envelope. And I miss handwriting!
So, I challenge myself, and all of you to WRITE to someone right now! I guarantee they will be thrilled, and may even return the favor. Who knows? Letter writing could go viral on Facebook! We could all be Tweeting about it by tomorrow!