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Mail Call

The United States Postal Service is in trouble.  According to a recent article in “The Week” magazine, the total debt of the agency is expected to reach $13 billion by the end of this year.  Perhaps this burgeoning business is a sign of the times;

http://www.earthclassmail.com/

This Seattle-based company will scan unopened mail and e-mail the images to its customers, who then decide which ones to open, and which to have shredded.

 90% of the mail is shredded without being opened.

This is mind-boggling to me.  For most of my life the mail has been something to look forward to.  I even like sifting through junk mail because occasionally, it isn’t actually junk. A catalog might contain a $10 coupon inside, netting free underwear or socks, a business envelope might even contain a check.  And my toddlers have always loved being handed the junk mail to open; anything to be like mommy! 

As a child I always wanted a pen pal. As a teen, I wrote to my friends during the summer.  Then as a young mother with several small children I searched the pen pal ads in magazines like Women’s Circle for like-minded pen pals.  And when I met Mary H. 22 years ago, I met my true match in the pen pal department. Mary and I have been corresponding two to three times a week for over 21 years. That is a lot of letters!

As a homeschooling mother, my children have learned letter-writing from my example. There is nothing like the desire to get something in the mailbox to encourage a young person to write letters themselves. Sadly, most of the magazines that used to run pen pal ads discontinued them a few years ago in response to parent’s concerns that prisoners or other unsavory characters would be contacting their children. And they did, as my daughter Elizabeth can attest to. Both of us received marriage proposals through the mail from men who liked our pen pal ads. And my son once got a letter asking him to hide it from his mom because women and girls might not “understand.”  It is a sad commentary on our society that homeschooling magazines and country living family magazines had to remove their pen pal sections because of this kind of response.

This holiday season I have heard it suggested that Christmas cards be sent via e-mail to save money.  I hope this practice isn’t embraced by many. For one thing, I’d have a hard time hanging an e-mail card up on my office doorway. For another, I really look forward to those cards filling up my mailbox in December.

I also enjoy sending Christmas cards out.  For less than 50-cents, I can send a card and a letter to people I love, brightening their day. It seems a very inexpensive way to show I care. Unlike those who complain about annual Christmas letters, I relish them, catching up on family and friends.

So, does the Postal Service have a future? William Burris, president of the American Postal Worker’s Union urges,”Mail a letter to a loved one, and do it weekly.”  That doesn’t seem too much to ask, when a simple card or letter could make the day of an elderly person, lighten the load for a mom at home, or let someone know you are thinking about them.

In less than five minutes you could write out a card and address the envelope, in ten minutes you could add a short note. Spend half an hour and you can slip in a real letter. 

And you can bet there won’t be any scanning or shredding involved when a real letter appears in the mail box. At least, not until after it is read and enjoyed.

And for those of you with little time but good intentions, don’t forget

http://www.hippopost.com/

where you can address personalized postcards and have them sent free of charge. No postage required!

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper and popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015.

2 thoughts on “Mail Call

  1. Hi, Mary! Thank you so much for this timely post. My husband is a letter carrier so it is scary to hear about the USPS being in trouble. With the electronic age the mail volume has gone down considerably. I wish more people would send personal mail..cards, letters, care packages. Junk mail has never bothered me. I would much rather get junk that I can toss in the recycling bin than telemarketing calls in the middle of supper. Most mail is printed on recycled paper, which was originally made from renewable resources anyway, so junk mail does not even have a negative effect on the environment. I am glad to hear that someone else shares my love of sending and receiving mail.I would much rather settle down with a long, newsy letter than read an email. 🙂 Let’s continue to make use of the Postal Service. We need to keep jobs going for those hard working people who have families to support..and who continue to bring happiness to people’s mail boxes one piece at a time.

  2. Great post! I consider letter writing a lost art. I enjoy writing letter and write often. Most of the time the people I write to email me back and thank me for the letter. Once when I hadn’t written to someone in awhile, mainly because I had not heard from him in quite awhile, I got a call from him and he apologized for not being in contact, life had gotten crazy, etc. And then he said, “I know I am not good at writing back, but could you still write to me. I love getting the letters in the mail.” I think that although we are now in a world were we have instant connection thru texting and emails we don’t really communicate anymore. Thanks again for your post!

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