The Lost Art of Snail Mail

210095_snail-mailWhen I was a child, my mother made my sister and I write Thank You notes.  If we were given money, we had to tell the giver what we spent the money on.  I wrote letters in elementary school to a friend who had moved away.  Granted it didn’t last long, mainly that first summer.  But it was fun to get a letter in the mail.  Sort of like a hug in an envelope.

My dad was in the army and stationed in Berlin when my parents “fell in love”.  My dad was seven years older than my mom and best friends with her brother Charles.  My dad would write Charles and then Charles would have my mother write a letter from him to my dad.  After a little while she just started writing letters from herself.  I don’t know what happened to the letters she wrote him.  Being a man, I assume he read them several times and eventually threw them away.  But the letters he wrote to her are still around.  Tied neatly into a bundle and tucked away in the attic.  That’s the way women are.  We treasure these things.  I remember one line he wrote when he was getting close to coming back home.  It was something like putting a bathtub in the ocean and propelling it home with an egg beater.

Occasionally on the internet there is an article about a letter being lost in the mail for decades and then finally being delivered to the proper person.  Its always fascinating to hear what the letter writer had to say.  It doesn’t matter how mundane the subject is.  I also find letters written by and to historical figures interesting too.  Just the day to day details of life.

Before the internet and text messaging we mailed letters.  If we wanted to keep up with someone we exchanged letters.  I’m not downplaying the modern age.  I love the internet!  My oldest and dearest friend lives in Bermuda.  We are both busy women.  Its nice to be able to just shoot off an email when I want to tell her something or catch up with her.  We still exchange Christmas cards and birthday cards through the mail.  I think she, like me, enjoys getting mail from those distant from us.  I remember in middle school she had a pen pal overseas. Now I will have to email her and ask her about that.  That’s one of the things we do in our emails, “Do you remember……”

Text is also a wonderful invention.  If I have a question or need to remind someone of something, I can text them.  They can text me back and we aren’t bothering each other.  Of course I’ve heard of mothers texting their children in the same house that its time to for dinner.

But there is something to be said about receiving a letter or note.  To me its say that the writer was thinking of me and it was so important that they took out a piece of paper or a note card.  I am a letter writer and a card sender.  When someone comes into my mind and stays there, something is telling me to write them.  Not call them.  I find it easier to convey my feelings in written form.

A dear dear uncle passed away last year.  He became ill very fast and was gone before we really could grasp what was happening.  A few months before he got sick, he was on my mind a lot.  I bought a special blank card with a picture of a little girl pushing a huge boulder up a hill and wrote a letter to him letting him know that he was a big part of my childhood and growing up.  He also was responsible for introducing me to Doug and I wanted him to know how much I appreciated that.

Facebook is great, being able to keep up with people that I’m sure would fade away to a memory in now time.  I have nothing against texting or emailing.  Both are wonderful tools to use.  But still there is something to be said about a letter or note written in someone’s own hand and the care that they took to do it.  I still buy boxes of notecards and books of stamps.  You never know when you’ll get a note in mail from me.  If you do, its because I’ve been thinking of you and I wanted you to know.

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