For $ .44 I can put a special birthday card in the hand of a child, and what child isnʼt delighted to receive mail just for them? For $ .44 I can brighten the day of an elderly aunt in a nursing home 120 miles away who we can visit only once a month. For $. 44 I can mail a long, newsy, chatty, upbeat letter to a U.S. serviceman or woman anywhere around the world.
I love my technology as much as anyone. I appreciate e-mail, I love the speed with which I can communicate online, I donʼt go anywhere without my cell phone, and am particularly fond of text messaging.
I am grateful for every text from my long-distance kids. Adult children do not want to call their mommies every day, but those simple texts griping about the Philliesʼ recent nosedive tells me they are alive and that nothing worse is happening to them today than a little sports disappointment! Those texts help me sleep at night.
But all those electronic connections pale in comparison to the handful of letters and the stack of hand-made birthday and Motherʼs Day cards received from them over the years, which I take out and re-savor on the days I miss them the most, smiling at the familiarity of their distinctive handwriting, enjoying the lovely memories their stories elicit. I wouldnʼt part with those for the world.
Everyone is busy. The pace and demands of modern life fill our lives to overflowing. Texting and e-mails are fast — fast to write, fast to send, and usually receive a fast reply. We think the electronic technology so much easier. But your loved ones canʼt stand up a text or email message to display on their mantel or bookshelf or bedside table.
It takes precious time to find stationary or a card, find a pen that works, find 15 minutes, find the address book, find a stamp, and it takes effort to find words to write. We worry about filling the whole page, we worry about our handwriting, we worry about our spelling and our grammar, and we worry about our eloquence.
But I wonder if we would worry quite so much about any of that if we could be a fly on the wall when our note is received in the mail by the person we took the time to bless with our words and sentiments. I know that many busy people object to the idea of sending snail mail, but have you ever known any person who didnʼt enjoy receiving mail? Perhaps if we could see the immediate smile, the warmth of recognition seeing the return address, the anticipation as the envelope is opened, the eagerness with which the note is read, and then got to see our message re-read in enjoyment, we would be motivated to write more often.
I know that the U.S. Postal Service has its problems. I know changes are coming. But I hope the adjustments made will be wise and will protect this important part of a civilized societyʼs infrastructure. Secure and efficient mail delivery is too important to be a political football.
We have been blessed to have a series of great mail carriers in our 26 years in Lancaster County. They have each been diligent, hard-working, as well as just plain nice, and I could regale you with stories of how each has gone above and beyond the call of duty many times over the years.
I donʼt love the long line at the main Post Office, but once it is my turn and I step up to the counter, the clerks are courteous and competent, even taking the time to cater to the appetite of my stamp collecting husband as he mixes and matches the commemorative stamps he enjoys using on our outgoing mail. For the time being we are also blessed to have near his gym a small post office with a wonderful, friendly staff and no lines, which we fear might be on the closure list.
And no, I wonʼt tell you where. As much as I appreciate all of you, I donʼt want to have to wait in line behind you as you select ten Gregory Peck stamps, ten Civil War commemoratives, six Ronald Reagans, two Kansas Statehoods, and a sheet of $ .28 postcard postage.
October 8, 2011