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Is snail mail dead?

When I was a child, getting mail addressed to me – specifically – was magical. It was proof that I existed to someone outside…outside of my family, outside of school, outside of church. Someone spent time to write to ME.

The excitement was palpable. A card, a post-card, a letter – it all affirmed that I WAS someone. And it was always a welcomed and enjoyable experience.

As I got older, I enjoyed writing cards, and letters, and post-cards. I took great care then (and now) when writing “thank you” cards to people as it only seemed fair that I should put in some effort in exchange for their thoughtfulness and kindness.

When I was a teen, I looked forward to sending out my own Christmas cards (and other holiday cards). And saw the fruits of sending a ‘thank you’ after an interview (which I continued to do throughout my working life).

Over the years I have enjoyed creating my own cards, and sending them out. But as the decades have passed, the number of cards I send and receive have dwindled to a hand full each year.

Considering that in my 20s and 30s and even up through my 40s, I often sent hundreds of birthday, holiday, and “just thinking of you” notes per year – it is a bit sad to think that this method of staying in touch has all but gone the way of the dinosaurs. Especially since I still get a thrill to see a hand written address on something in our mailbox, and enjoy the post-cards, and cards that I do get from folks.

But I also know that writing not only takes time, but the relative cost includes the postage now…and when I first started to write cards etc as a child, postage for a letter was 5 cents. Of course, pay phone local calls were 5 cents then, too. Now it is 50 cents to mail a letter – which sounds expensive when we have email, text messages and of course, the ubiquitous cell phone.

I miss the time it takes to read a handwritten letter, translating someone else’s messy handwriting, deciphering the one or two words that are mushed together because the writer didn’t leave enough space at the end of the line and didn’t want to turn the page over (or maybe it was already the other side and no more room). I miss seeing the spelling errors crossed out, or written over. And the wacky friends who wrote in spirals and made designs of the words. I miss the silly hearts to dot the “i” and smudges that happen on slick paper cards. And most of all, I miss the feeling of holding someone else’s thoughts in my hands, lightly, like holding a frightened parakeet, and reading and rereading a particularly good part.

I still smile when I get a text message or email from a friend or loved one. Perhaps not as wide or as deeply as when I get a hand-written card. I guess I feel the same way about handwritten mail as some of my friends feel about physical books as opposed to e-books.

It defines me as part of an age…the in between of early tech and advanced tech. But it is a bit of arcane activity that I will not give up, in spite of my arthritis and muscle spasms. Even if the recipients of my notes never write back in kind, I will enjoy the time I spend to write to them. And enjoy pouring the good energy and love into what I have handwritten.

So is snail mail dead? It seems to be on its last legs, but as long as I can write, I will still send snail mail.


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