I recently obtained a post office box. I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to make Save Snail Mail more official, the other cool kids have one, and I don’t have to post my physical address on the interwebs. But I realized that I need to ask people to write me in order for me to actually get any mail there!
So, I thought I’d provide a little incentive. Please send me a note or letter or post card or piece of mail art to help break in my new P.O. box and every person who sends me something between now and November 15th will 1) receive a reply and 2) be entered into a drawing to receive a lovely package of various stationery from my personal collection.
So get writing! I’m so excited and I hope you are, too! This is my first blog giveaway, so I’m looking forward to putting together something great.
Please send some fun to my mailbox at:
Dana c/o Save Snail Mail
P.O. Box 95
Carrboro, NC 27510
You know that awesome picture you snapped on your camera phone of your friends dressed as zombies? Yes, that one. Wouldn’t it be fun to share it with them through the mail?
Well, touchnote.com does just that for you. From your computer or through a smartphone app, you can now generate some lovely (or scary, if zombies are involved) snail mail for your friends and family. You can even add thought balloons or captions to the photos. Each postcard printed, stamped, and delivered is $1.49.
I found out about this service by receiving just such a postcard from my cousin. He took a picture of me and my sister with his phone while were visiting family in Maryland. A week later he sent us these:
So many great photos live on phones or on facebook, and it’s nice to have a way to liberate them into the real world for prominent display on the fridge. And the postcards are very sturdy, so they’ll withstand some front-of-fridge wear and tear.
I wanted to share this particularly lovely postcard sent to me by my friend Laura:
It was an old, used postcard with a postmark from 1912. Laura wrote a new note around the old note, writing perpendicularly to the original message, popped it in an envelope and sent it my way. It was something old and something new at the same time! What a wonderful treat to find in my mailbox.
I especially loved the Robert Burns quote in the upper left: “Heaven spare ye lang to kiss the breath o’ mony flowery simmers.” Yes, please.
Today is my 6 month blogging anniversary! It’s been so much fun sharing my love of snail mail with you. In January, I began this blog with my birthday request for friends and family to send me letters. I have had a lot of great mail days since then.
I’ve been remiss lately in posting some of the great things I’m getting in my mailbox. I wanted to share a few photos of the giving and receiving…and also share how I keep track of all the comings and goings.
Here is a pile of recent incoming postcards:
The old-fashioned postman postcard is from my pen pal Maria. The postcard was designed by the Missive Maven. The Missive Maven has a great selection of snail mail-themed postcards and you can purchase them here. I have been sending out the “Snail Mail: Not Dead Yet” ones lately, because they combine my love of snail mail and my love of Monty Python!
The amazing sewn/quilted/dyed “Hello” postcard is from my pen pal Lisa. She blogs about her quilting and other adventures at Upstate Lisa. As her pen friend, I get to benefit from her mad quilting and paper crafting skills.
Here’s another pic of fun in my mailbox:
And I’ve been following the snail mail golden rule: Want a letter? Send a letter. Here is a recent outgoing stack:
How do I keep track of all of this coming and going? I use my handy Letter Writers Alliance correspondence log, of course! I think you may have to be a member to purchase it, but membership is inexpensive and, it does have its privileges!
The log provides separate sections to keep track of what you’re sending (and on what stationery, so you don’t bore your pen pals with the same old stuff each time) as well as what you’re receiving (so you can keep track of whether or not you replied).
I just love keeping track of my mail in this nice, old-fashioned-feeling ledger. It makes my correspondence feel so official!
I hope you have had some great mail days recently, too. And I look forward to sharing more stationery, stamps, and other fun tidbits to make your snail mail spectacular. And I hope you keep reading!
My friend Allison lived in France for the past year (and was the inspiration for a trip to visit her in April). She and I exchanged letters while she was there and she just sent me her last installment from Strasbourg before her return home at the end of June.
She began her last letter thanking me on behalf of her and her mailbox for keeping them busy! Here’s a pic of Allison checking her mail. I loved those crazy mailboxes in the courtyard she shared with several other apartments.
In her letter, Allison wrote that she had spent a little time in Florence as a last getaway before she moved home. She said the food was spectacular, but that she also found some time between the pasta and pizza to check out the city’s amazing paper offerings.
Below is a little memento she was kind enough to send me from her excursion. Check out this beautiful book mark (and the great little paper bag it arrived in):
Oh, how gorgeous! I’m putting it to use right away!
My friend Alison has been my one stalwart pen pal for the last 8 years…since I moved from Boston to North Carolina. Her letters come a few times a year, sometimes more, but they’re always a force to be reckoned with. She carries my letters around, waiting to reply to them, snatching moments to jot down her thoughts while out having ice cream with her daughters, during a free moment in her days as a high school art teacher, late at night when she can’t sleep. The letters arrive in a jumble–stretching weeks apart, often written on drawings done by her daughters, and always full of life.
Her handwriting moves from mildly legible to indecipherable the longer the writing stretch, but I move slowly over each word to gather the meaning.
I received just such a letter last week and it was a joy to read while sitting on my deck in the lunch-time sun, hearing about her recent adventure taking a train from Boston to Florida with her three daughters and husband, meeting her family from England there for an American vacation in the heart of theme-park Mecca. I felt like I was there by the pool with her, catching up. No email can take me to the places where Alison does with her letters.
Reading her letters is one of my great pleasures. And I’m so thankful to have them–and her–in my life.
Here’s a shot of all the snail mail I’ve received since my birthday request:
I’ve been keeping it in the antique toast caddy I received as a Christmas present. Here’s the caddy in all its glory:
Look at its sweet little feet.
I am posting this note because I’m thrilled to report that I have too much snail mail for the caddy to hold! Woo hoo! In addition to getting 30 or 40 letters for my brithday, I have received multiple letters from friends in whom my request rekindled their own love for snail mail. It’s been so nice to reconnect with them in this way.
For now, I’ve emptied the caddy so I can start filling it anew. Wonder what fun in my mailbox will arrive next?
I remember that when I was a kid all of my notes (whether passed in the hall or mailed to pen pals far away) ended with the earnest request, “Write me back.” And the ones I received said the same. Somewhere along the way, we learned that this was part of kid-note etiquette.
I guess we had to make sure the recipient was well aware of the sacred pact that had been forced upon her or him—a letter received came with a requirement to write back.
Now, as a full-fledged grownup, my notes generally do not end with demands for the reader to write back (unless, of course, I’m writing my young nieces who expect that as a crucial component of a letter!). Even letters I write to people who have not responded to my last missives never contain admonitions.
I write people to let them know I’m thinking of them and to share a bit of what’s going on with me. While I love return letters, I do not send snail mail explicitly to get something back. And I certainly do not write letters to make my recipients feel guilt or shame or anger at the new mantle of responsibility I have placed upon their shoulders from which they can’t wrestle free until they respond!
But you would think that was the case.
After my birthday request for folks to write to me, I received an email from a friend who has actually written me numerous letters over the years. He promised he would write, at some point, but that I shouldn’t get too excited, because it would very likely be six months from now. He wanted to set the bar low so I wouldn’t get my hopes up. He may also have set this expectation to assuage his guilt about the time it might take to write—a guilt he took on himself.
He then sent me an email a month later saying, “I’m still going to write, but just not now.” This made me realize that he’s carrying around this burden of having to write me a letter, it’s another addition to his to-do list. I’ve inadvertently shouldered this man with another responsibility, a man who spends his “free time” chasing a toddler around and probably trying to cook dinner, pay attention to his wife and catch a few winks before having to head to work and then do it all over again.
That was not the reason for my birthday request! I swear!
I also received a birthday letter from a friend who is currently living in France. (She sent the only international addition to my birthday request pile!) She mentioned in her note that she used to be an avid letter writer, but she stopped because sending out letters that that rarely elicited responses made her feel lonely.
I can definitely understand the unfulfilled wish for a return letter creating a feeling of loneliness. But perhaps if she knew that her recipients far away were likely saddled with guilt for not having written back, she would take comfort. Both sides were actually thinking of each other!
Of course, in the best of all worlds, letters sent out are received with joy and returned in kind. Yesterday I received two (!) pieces of snail mail and I am looking forward to writing back. I just bought some new stationery I can use!
But I suppose that just reinforces this vicious circle. Or, because it generates snail mail, maybe it’s a virtuous circle.
To inspire you to approach letter writing with an open heart and without a feeling of dread or responsibility, I leave you with this video:
I know you’ve seen them–in restaurants, on the bus, walking through stores–young folks with their eyes glued to their smart phone screens, texting away. I sometimes worry that all that screen time will have adverse effects on their attention span, social skills, and ability to enjoy what is actually going on around them, in real life. Then I wonder if I’m just turning into a curmudgeon.
But I do know that despite the prevalence of texting, facebook, and email, the kids in my life love sending and receiving letters almost as much as I do! My neice Shawna–a sophomore in high school–just sent me a letter the other day. I had written her a note and she wrote back! In it, she mentioned that she missed writing letters as much as we used to (admittedly, as she has grown up and become a heavy user of instant forms of communication, letters have become more infrequent). Still, despite all the options for instant communication, she still relishes receiving handwritten letters in the mail.
There’s hope for snail mail yet!
Are there any kids in your life? Try mailing them a note and see what happens. You just may develop a new pen pal and it’s a great way to connect one-on-one with a child in your life.