I have always had a love affair with snail mail. Of course, when I was child it was simply “mail.” Writing notes and letters on pretty paper, putting them in a pretty envelope sealed with a sticker, affixing the postage stamp, and dropping it off at the post office to begin its journey to making someone’s day is something I have enjoyed – then and now.
During my childhood I had several pen pals – some were cousins my age that lived on the other edge of the county, some were children of my parent’s friends that lived in the next state, some were friends I had met at summer camp. And some were complete strangers I met through a Pen Pal Lottery by American Girl Magazine. We would faithfully write letters back and forth, updating each other on all the things that were important to 10-year-old girls – our families, school activities, and our pets. As we grew older though, the letters became fewer and far between as our time was consumed with high school activities and academics. By the time I entered college, the letters penned on paper became messages sent through IM’s and emails. And soon, we just lost touch completely.
Then a few years ago, I received a card in the mail at work. The last name in the return address was not familiar, but as I opened and began reading the note a flood of memories came over me. Nearly 20 years later, Missy, a pen pal from my past sent me a letter! She had googled my maiden name and found me through my work information shared online. We continue to write cards back and forth and have chosen to keep our correspondence “off-line.”
I still enjoy sending and receiving snail mail – there are few things that can brighten my day like a colorful envelope in the mailbox that signals its contents are not a bill. I have shared my love of snail mail with my 5-year-old. She has started writing “letters” and sending pictures to her friends that moved to California a year ago. She enjoys the sending as much as the receiving!
In this day of facebook, email, and texting, teaching a child to put pen to paper and reach out to brighten someone’s day is truly invaluable. Think about someone in your child’s life that would be interested in fostering a pen pal relationship – it could be a relative, a friend who has moved away, or even a friend that lives nearby. Help them pick out a pack of cute cards (DollarSpot at Target is perfect) and a fun pen or marker. Stop by the Post Office and purchase some special stamps. Set aside time to help draft the perfect message. Let’s not let the art of the hand-written note be forgotten!