The Art of Sending Snail Mail: Guest Post by Jenna Sauber
So are you enjoying The Art of Sending Snail Mail series so far? I sure am!
My next guest, Jenna, and I have known each other on Twitter for a few years, but I feel like we really bonded in the last few months when we both participated in Whole30 program in January as well as when the news broke about USPS cutting Saturday service. I'll let her explain it more in her guest post, but Jenna and her friend Leslie are determined to keep snail mail alive by offering to write a letter to anyone who signed up for it on their blogs. Pretty cool and generous, if you ask me.
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I have always been a lover of letters. It only makes sense, since I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. Sometimes, there is nothing more exciting that fills my heart with joy than seeing a postcard or letter in the mail, expected or not.
As a child, I regularly wrote letters with my grandmother. We would swap three or four sheets of stationery filled with all of our daily doings and longings. When I left one school district for another after sixth grade, my best friend and I wrote each other letters for about a year. And one time on a flight to Louisiana, I met a kindred spirit, an elderly woman with whom I began a pen palship for about 10 years before she passed away. I even exchanged letters with an ex-boyfriend when he was away in law school.
Letters have been a staple of human communication since paper was invented: there are love letters, letters of state, resignation letters, offer letters, secret letters, and letters to the editor. And as technology has evolved, our letter-writing has, too – from handwritten, to typed, to emailed. Now, instead of writing a letter, we send texts and Gchats. And they say that anything online is forever, but is it really? I may archive an email or keep a text thread for awhile, but there’s nothing like going back to a handwritten letter years later, all of the memories that accompanied it rushing back at once. The paper has a scent, whether from age or on purpose, and the ink may be faded or the pencil marks smudged. There may be creases and rips from so many readings, or watermarks from my tears.
A letter carries emotion. It carries glad tidings that you were accepted into college or for an internship. It carries sympathy after a loss. It carries heartache from distance and time. It carries passion from longing and dreams of future encounters. It carries joy, simply with a hello, I’m thinking of you.
As of August 5, we will lose one extra day of letters because USPS is cancelling Saturday mail delivery. For those who haven’t bought stamps in years, who do all of their business online, who don’t “need” Saturday mail…it won’t even matter.
But what does matter is that some people rely on a mail carrier, if only for it being the only human contact they have on a weekend. They rely on a mail carrier who really knows his or her route and its residents, to help in emergencies and bring a smile to the elderly or ill. To these people, mail carriers are heroes, making an appearance in rain, snow, hail, or sunshine.
And to those of us who just love the mail? It matters, too. After a week of work and our busy lives, it’s nice to check the mailbox on a Saturday and see a surprise – a note from a friend traveling, a long letter from a relative or lost connection. Hidden among the junk mail and magazines and bills, it’s a little something extra for us, to enjoy on the front porch, or in the window seat, with our coffee or tea. It’s a moment to appreciate that someone took the time to find some paper and a pen, to maybe use cursive writing, to put their thoughts and feelings to print, just for you.
A couple of months ago, fellow letter lover Leslie Farnsworth and I decided to try a little experiment. We wanted to show people how wonderful receiving mail can be and how great sending mail can be, too. So far, I have sent about a dozen or so postcards or letters to friends and complete strangers who wanted some mail, and I got a few back, too. The best part was that along the way, others wanted in on the experiment, which shows just how much mail can spread happiness. And of course, that’s why Michelle is doing this blog series.
So from one letter lover to another, I encourage you to capture a moment in time, on paper, with a pen or pencil, and bring someone joy today with some mail.
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Jenna Sauber works in digital communications in Washington, DC, but is looking forward to soon pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. She’s looking for new pen pals, and can’t wait to use some of the handmade paper she bought in Rome a year ago. You can read more about Jenna’s mail experiment on her blog, Lagniappe, and you can find her on Twitter @cajunjen.