I just love writing letters the old-fashioned way, and I also love checking my post box and finding a little snail mail surprise mixed in with the bills and advertisements of everyday mail. Somehow it’s been ages since I’ve sent out any hand-written notes of my own, but after stumbling upon the book To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing, I finally got myself to write a long overdue letter to my very favorite pen pal. In the US, postage is the same for international mail whether you send a letter or just a postcard, so I’ve found myself waiting to write full letters rather than sending quick postcards just to make up for the price. I’ve decided in the spirit of snail mail (and so I at least start sending something again!), I’ll just let the extra few cents go and start sending postcards more regularly again, specifically through a project I always enjoyed called Post Crossing.
I used to avidly participate in Post Crossing when I lived in Japan. It was so much fun receiving postcards from all over the world! I would love to participate in the Happy Mail Project if another round gets going sometime, too. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking of sending creative mail to friends, even if they live nearby, just to give them a nice little surprise. I’ve been playing with the idea of sending letters in fun or pretty envelopes, like this, this, or this.
Below you’ll find a few of my favorite quotes from To the Letter; they really sum up what I love about the hand-written letter.
“…will we ever glow when we open an email folder? Emails are a poke, but letters are a caress, and letters stick around to be newly discovered” (20).
“…what can we learn from these excitingly random collections of letters at auction houses and the slightly more ordered gatherings in anthologies? We learn that we are not alone, and that letters may leave us both larger and other than we are” (200).
“Love letters catch us at a time in our lives where our marrow is jelly; but we toughen up, our souls harden, and we reread them years later with a mixture of disbelief and cringing horror, and — worst of all — level judgement. The American journalist Mignon McLaughlin had it right in 1966: ‘If you must re-read old love letters,’ she wrote in The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ‘better pick a room without mirrors'” (336).
I love the way letters can breathe life into history–turn an event from which we feel detached into something poignant and real. I also enjoy how letters connect us and make us take the time to share something thought out that feels more permanent and special than an email.
I’d love to hear about your experience with snail mail! Leave a comment below 🙂
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!