This is the best time of year for my mailbox, and likely yours. Every day brings a holiday card or end-of-year letter. And there is glitter everywhere!*
Each year, I get so excited to choose my stamps for the 100 holiday cards I send out. This year, I knew nearly a year in advance which ones would be decorating my envelopes: the four images of Peter playing in the snow from one of my favorite childhood books, A Snowy Day.
These images, drawn in the early 1960s, still evoke a sense of fun and adventure through their simple design. But given the world we are in today, these stamps are more than that. They are a tiny but mighty way of affirming the beauty and innocence of children of color in a world that too often fails at this. As Andrea Davis Pinkney, recently wrote:
My hope is that the stamps bearing Peter’s image will usher forth positive perceptions, and will make even the most device-driven people glance up from their phones and newsfeeds to enjoy the beauty of a child’s adventure.
A black kid in a hoodie now stands proudly at the upper right corner of millions of envelopes. A brown-skinned boy brings comfort and joy during the holiday season. A child of color helps you and me pay our bills. He’ll bring smiles to people whose mailboxes will be filled with glad tidings. No one will see this kid as a menace, or as a scary societal hazard who portends danger.
Stamps are powerful. They shape narratives about who we see ourselves as as Americans, and show what we value–or should. So, while these stamps make great additions to Christmas cards, I hope they continue to decorate your letters in the coming year–each one sending a message of hope.
If you haven’t gotten yours just yet, you can still purchase them at your local post office or at the Postal Store online.
*Random trivia: glitter is called “flitter” by the card designers at Hallmark. I learned this from my pen pal at The Well-Appointed Desk.
It snowed last week in New Orleans! It was mostly slush in the city, but everyone was talking about how rare snow is in those parts and how it added to the holiday feel.
I spent some time at the historic Roosevelt Hotel for a conference and the hotel was decorated lavishly for the holidays with trees and lights lining the hallways.
But of course, my eye was drawn to this beautiful brass mailbox, still in use after all these years!
And even the mailbox lock was beautiful.
I have dozens of photos of mailboxes in historic buildings across the United States. I love the feeling I get when one of these beauties reveals itself!
The Great American Eclipse is today!
The USPS issued a commemorative stamp (in June, on the summer solstice) to celebrate this rare event.
These stamps use a special ink that is black when cool, showing a total solar eclipse. The ink fades when heated by your breath or finger to reveal the moon!
You can buy them here. The back of the stamp sheet provides a map of the path of totality:
You can learn more about the stamps and their special ink here.
Post offices in the path of the eclipse are offering special pictorial cancellations until September. You can find a post office and request these special cancellations here.
If you have never requested special postmarks, here are some great instructions to get a pristine example back!
Here are a couple of examples of pictorial cancellations:
Most of the U.S. will see at least a partial eclipse today, so be safe in your viewing. If you would rather just watch the total eclipse online, you can find some options here.
And I recommend you check out this TED video. It’s incredible!!
It has been a dark year, personally for certain, but also culturally, politically, and environmentally. I lost my father unexpectedly. People have been put in charge who care only about their power as they exploit the earth and the diverse people who inhabit it. We lost so many visionaries: storytellers who saw magic in the world, sexy gender-boundary expanders, frank discussants of personal experiences with mental illness, composers of heart-expanding music. We lost black lives that mattered, queer lives that mattered, and poor lives that mattered because there are many in power who do not yet see the beauty and value in each of us.
Most of us are afraid of the dark. But the dark–of the night, of the future–though filled with dangers real and imagined, is also the darkness of possibility. The darkness of soil or womb in which a seed planted, grows, moving towards the light. A seed sprouting first, always, in the dark, the light being an inhospitable place for potential to begin the transformation into actual.
So as I sit in the dark tomorrow, saying goodbye to a year that was and hello to what will be, I will be that seed of possibility: bursting forth into the new year, reaching for the light.
Egg Press is doing a #writeon challenge encouraging us to send 30 letters in 30 days. Can you do it? I’m going to try, though I’m already a bit behind!
Wow. Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I still think a lot about “snail mail” and how to save it.
I moved in May to a new home, and that came with lots of unpacking and home projects and new visitors (because we now have a guest bedroom!) and these things filled the space I may have previously filled with letter writing and mail art.
But my creative space (a reclaimed formerly windowless basement room) is nearly remodeled and soon I’ll have a dedicated space to return to the handwritten pleasures of life. I’m hoping that means more fodder for this blog, too!
I’m writing now, because I read today this piece from Brain Pickings about Rebecca Solnit’s new book The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness in which she talks about how modern of tweets and texts are affecting our communication and also our expression of ourselves.
Here is a quote BrainPickings shared from her book.
As I ran my fingers over the lined paper, words subtly debossed by the pressure of my grandmother’s ballpoint pen, I wondered about the continuity of personal identity across this shift — my letter-writing self seemed to have entirely different things to say, and to say them entirely differently, than my email-writing self, and yet the two selves belong to the same person. Each appears to be a dormant potentiality, beckoned forth by the respective medium of expression — something that makes it hard not to notice, and hard not to worry about, how such shifts in medium might shape what parts of ourselves we manifest, which in turn add up to the sum total of our personal identity.
I’m going to go buy it now so I can read more!
Happy International Day of Happiness!!
Today, March 20th, people all over the globe are trying to increase happiness in the one way that works best, connecting with others.
Organizers of the event are encouraging us to connect with people by saying Say “Hi” to strangers, call an old friend, share with others something that makes you smile, go outside and talk to a neighbor, volunteer in your community. And then let this good feeling flow through you–brought on by connection!
So, today, follow E.M. Forster’s advice and “Only connect…” and if that connection is via snail mail, then all the better!
Dr. Seuss would have been 111 yesterday. By total coincidence, my creative wife sculpted a Cat in the Hat around our mailbox after our recent big snow. My mailbox usually makes me happy, but it was almost magical for a few days!
One of the joys of this blog is that occasionally people find it and send me letters saying they enjoy reading SSM and share a love of all things snail mail.
I love this. But the message is especially sweet when it comes with handmade snail mail cards!!!
Addie from Colorado sent these to me. I love her adorable, letter-focused snails.
Thanks, Addie! A real reply is headed your way via the USPS.
I got the best wrapped present this year!
And what was inside was even better! Hope you had a wonderful holiday and that 2015 brings full mail boxes!!