Monday, August 27, 2012

The Importance of Correspondence

 by Regina Gort

Do you remember mail? When is the last time you received a letter with a stamp delivered by the U.S. postal service(ie snail mail)?

As a kid growing up in Texas, I remember walking out to the mailbox. It was an event. I'd walk down a dusty road with heighten expectations. What would come today?

Maybe a letter from my grandmother, Ruth. She lived in the tundra of Michigan, where we vacationed every summer. She started my obsession with mail. She wrote to me on a regular basis. Before I could even write her back, I would dictate a response and my mom would carefully write down each word.
My grandmother, Ruth

Once I was old enough to write my own letters, I wrote to my summer best friend. Her family had a cottage on Lake Superior next to our family's cottage. Our grandmother's encouraged us to write and a love affair with mail was solidified. Every year we wrote about what was happening in school and of course about boys and bands. We adorned them with stickers and glitter and paint. This went on for years. Some years better than others.
I signed up for pen pals in school. They were from exotic places like Spain and New York.

Today, I still try to write at least one letter a week. And on really productive weeks I can get out a letter a day.

It's an art that is being lost with every email, text, status update and tweet. But it is receiving somewhat of a revival. It's now vintage.  And vintage is cool.

I was so excited to hear about The Happy Mail project by Juliana L. Brandt. Basically you send encouragement via snail mail. No names, just addresses. All  it needs to be is words of motivation, inspiration, warm fuzzy thoughts, or funny anecdotes. I am in.

So as you sit in front of that screen to type another email, consider for moment putting a stamp on it.


  1. Thanks, Gina! I love Juliana's idea.

    I enjoy getting handwritten notes/cards, but unless they say something special, I don't save them - they get dropped into the recycling bin and I feel a pang of guilt. Someone took the time to send me a card that says Happy Birthday and they signed their name - is that any better than an email? But when someone takes the time to write a thoughtful message - that I really appreciate. Especially with all the junk mail we receive, those personal notes are special, and my daughter really loves to get them too. Some of our elementary school teachers still initiate pen-pal projects - a wonderful experience for the kids.

    1. I'm in too! Got my cards sitting here and the addresses Juliana sent me. Now to think of the right things to say...

  2. I totally agree with you, Kristin, about the cards that come signed. Thoughtful words are really worth the stamp. My grandmother was always recycling. She'd use the face of old cards and make new ones or cut out things she liked to make a new one. I tend to compost old letters, or burn them.
    I love that pen pals are still being made. Makes me smile!

  3. When I was in high school (for me that was a long time ago), I had 3 pen pals that Id never met, two in Japan & one in England. I still get a Christmas card every year from the Brit, but a few years after school ended, the Japanese ones had to end the relationship. They didn't keep up their study of English & they had to spend long hours translating my letters. Until then I hadn't even thought about the fact that English was foreign to them. They wrote to me in beautiful English.

  4. I used to write a lot of letters, but sadly I've become an email person. I'll think about this project. Perhaps I can reform.

  5. I agree, handwritten mail is so much more meaningful than an e-mail. My mom still sends me cards and postcards. I aspire to be like her one day. I worry if that will be possible with the always imminent collapse of the post office. In the meantime, I have signed up for the happy mail project :)