Snail Mail Still Matters
I am entrenched in our on-demand, instant gratification world of communication. Landline phones and calling cards seem so outdated that it’s hard to imagine I once saved babysitting money to buy a 500 minute calling card to talk to my high school boyfriend while he studied out of state. That was also back when long distance calling was still a thing!
Now, texts, tweets and posts are all free and instant. They don’t require much thought or preparation, and they don’t demand any out-of-pocket costs. Sending an instant message is practical, fast and just makes sense. But, for all of the wonderfully rapid means of connecting that are available, I still cling to one seemingly archaic form of communication that I refuse to let go: handwritten cards.
The United States Postal Service reported that in 2016, 19.7 billion single-piece first-class mailings were sent. That roughly totals 2 letters per household per week. Not even a letter every other day was delivered to your home.
With this in mind, I reach out to my friends flung to all corners of the globe by mailing notes and cards. I think of these little envelopes as love letters to the people I want to keep around.
Over my years of relocations, long distance friendships and general maturation, I have learned the power of pen and paper. They’re such simple items, but when used correctly, they can protect your priceless relationships as well as a sword and shield.
My notes aren’t complicated, and sometimes they’re not even pretty as I rush to get them written before the postal carrier arrives, but they all bear my signature seal of genuineness. I cared about you enough to write!
Each month, I pick a friend and I send her a card, note, or tiny gift. Admittedly, it’s a meager goal, but it’s one I have been able to maintain for years, even with the addition of a baby into my life. Items have ranged from a set of Paris note cards, to a tiny NFL dress of a friend’s favorite team for her baby. The gifts were merely the add-ons to the real purpose of writing them hello! These woman are friends I frequently text and message, so it might seem strange to send them snail mail when we likely talked that same day. Except, in this instance it really is the thought that counts, and I choose to be intentional and unique in letting them know that they are on my mind. I want them to feel the warm embrace of being appreciated.
The impractically of a written note is also one of its most endearing qualities: It takes intentional effort to let someone know I am thinking of her. Letters and cards require a small investment in the stationary and the required postage to mail them. Then of course, there’s actually writing your thoughts out on paper, which demands more consideration than just relying with auto-correct — a handwritten note doesn’t have spellcheck!
With handwriting a letter, you also can’t substitute ambiguous emojis for actual sentiments. The act of writing, stamping and mailing a card is anything but instant, but in exchange for your effort, your recipient is rewarded with a meaningful, physical representation of a feeling that you took time to put into action.
In stark contrast to the fading courtesies of today, I grew up with a mother who diligently sent handwritten thank you notes. They were simple, straightforward and most of all, sincere. They took an extra five minutes in her busy day to crank out, and with four kids running her ragged, she was not long on free time. She chose to intentionally make the time to let others know that they mattered, and this thoughtfulness defined her as a friend and a person. To this day, she still sends her own children thank you notes for the smallest courtesy. We sometimes make family jokes about “mom’s thank you card obsession,” but, it’s a quality I have always admired in her. I know it’s also a reason why I try to emulate this same characteristic today.
Each one of us has a desire to feel and know that we are appreciated, even cherished. Something as simple as a sheet of paper, your words and a stamped envelope can satisfy that need for someone of significance in your life.
Start small if you haven’t written in years or fear you have absolutely no time for such nonsense. You may be surprised at how easily your gratitude and excitement pours out once that pen hits the page.
Need more encouragement? Picture the expression on your friend’s face the day she or he opens the mailbox to find your note inside -– a small token of joy that cost you practically nothing to send but will pay priceless rewards to your friendship!
When was the last time you sent someone a handwritten note?
Have you received mail from a friend that changed your day?