The Gift of Mail


I recently arrived home to find a small, salmon notice from the post office in my mail box. It informed me that I had a package waiting, but that I had to pay $3.77 in postage to pick it up. Under comments it just said “green wallet”. As I actually thought might happen, a nice person came upon the wallet I left on top of my car a few weeks ago, wrote my name and address on a sticker adhered to the wallet, and placed it in a mail box, leaving it to me and the USPS to take it from there. Based on the somewhat shaky, but neat, cursive penmanship, I guessed it was an elderly woman who took the time to do this.

It got me thinking about how much I love the USPS.
Taken almost completely for granted and lately referred to mostly for their financial woes, this institution has been delivering everything from wallets to honey bees to love letters and letters to Santa for as long as this country has existed.

As a child, I was an avid letter writer. My parents taught me to write thank you notes, post cards from vacations, and let me know that the best way to receive mail was to be the first to send it. With my creative spelling and pictures, I kept up with grandparents and aunts who lived out of town.

In the second grade, my teacher gave us a list of schools in foreign countries that had students who wished to become pen pals with students in my school. Always fascinated by kings, queens, and knights, I chose England and was one of only a few students to receive a letter in response. Patty and I continued to write through our teens, meeting twice, and making it into our early 20s before losing touch. Thinking that was that, several years later I was contacted by a woman on Facebook whose last name I didn’t recognize, only to realize it was Patty, and, with updated contact info, the Christmas cards resumed. It is a bit ironic that it was the world of instant messaging that brought us back together, so our snail mail could continue.

Because there is little actual need for paper mail in a reality of online bill pay and email, it makes a letter, postcard, or package that much more dear, a gift rather than a necessity. Coming across a handwritten envelope amongst the stacks of credit card applications, coupons, and bills, is truly one of the greatest and simplest pleasures I can think of. It is a little token, there for no other reason than to say “In our fast paced world, I took the time to write and send this, hoping it makes you happy.”

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