11-11-11 and Veterans Day

Happy 11-11-11!

As the perceptive Melissa over at Viva Snail Mail has noted…today’s cool date: 11-11-11 will unfortunately not be a date you can get postmarked on your letters.  The post offices are closed today to observe Veterans Day. Well, you can write letters today and write the awesome date proudly at the top and mail it tomorrow while we still have Saturday delivery.

And while you’re writing letters on this Veterans day, take the time to write notes to friends or family members who have served in our armed forces.  Thank them for their dedication and sacrifice.  If you don’t know any folks who’ve served, there are several websites that help you send letters and care packages to current service members overseas.  Below are some I found, but I haven’t used any of these yet.  If you have, please let me know about your experience and/or share others you would recommend.


Here are the USPS rules for mailing packages overseas to troops.

Letters have always meant a lot to military members overseas.  They are small bits of home that servicemen and women can carry around with them to remind them what they’re sacrificing for.  During World War II, letters from home were so important that one man, Jim Johnston who accidentally received a letter to Jim Johnson, held on to the letter for more than 60 years.  After Johnston passed away, his son found the letter and tracked down the original recipient.  The letter shared mundane bits of life at home that soldiers longed to hear. You can read the full story here.

A recent New York Times article For Soldiers, The End of Mail Means the End of War notes that mail to miliary members in Iraq postmarked after November 17th will not be delivered in Iraq because the war is ending and troops are leaving.  The article shares the perspective of a former serviceman who tells how hearing that the mail service was ending made the end of the war seem more real to him.  Mail makes me feel more real and I’m sure it’s a lifeline to those living in conditions I can’t even imagine.  So keep sending mail to Afghanistan and to troops in other active areas until the mail lines end there, too.

And speaking of letters and soldiers, Letters of Note has Kurt Vonnegut’s letter home written after he was held as a POW in Germany’s Slaughterhouse Five. Letters home from war are perhaps the most powerful of all, because while our letters can provide them some opportunity for mental escape, their letters expose the stark realities of war to those of us lucky enough to be safe at home.

Here’s a video of some Post Secrets from soldiers:

Thank you to every person who has sacrificed for and served our country.  Thanks especially to my Dad John, my brother David, my grandfather Jim (R.I.P.) and friend Kerry.

Snail Mail Roundup

I wanted to share a few articles I’ve read lately about the USPS’s financial situation, email privacy (or the lack of it), some neat postal service history from Springfield, IL, and another person sharing the fact that snail mail in her mailbox makes her squeal with delight.

On another note, last night I put together the stationery stash I’ll be giving away on the 15th.  It includes 15 different card/letter designs and will come in a nice folio by Kartos.  To be entered into the drawing, send snail mail to: Dana c/o Save Snail Mail, P.O. Box 95, Carrboro, NC 27510 USA.  Senders of all notes received by November 15th will be eligible and I’ll announce the winner that night!

Crane & Co. Wants Pen Pals

Looking for someone new to send a note to?  Well, the fine folks at Crane & Co. have asked very nicely for you to write them a letter.  They want to rekindle their pen pal days as children and they promise to write back!

In addition to meeting someone else who loves stationery (why else would you work at Crane?), you’ll also get added to a list to win some always gorgeous Crane goodies.  More details about the program here, but you can send your notes and letters to:

Crane & Co. Pen Pals
44 West 28th Street, 8th Floor
NY, NY 10001

I’m getting ready to write my own note…but the real question is: “Should I send the note on my Crane stationery?” I think I’ll just surprise them.


A missive from Alison in Boston…

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.

Make a kid smile

I’ve written before about sending letters to the kids in your life.  They love getting mail that’s just for them.  If you don’t have any kids in your life to send notes to, perhaps you’ll be inspired to send a note to a child with a serious illness who could use a little cheer in their mail. 

Post Pals connects kids with serious illnesses to snail mail enthusiasts, asking folks to send notes or small gifts to help them face the challenges they do every day. More heartbreaking are the links to send memorial notes to the siblings of children who have passed away.  A random act of kindness and compassion really can make a difference in someone’s life, so please take a moment to send a note.

Post Pals is for children in the United Kingdom.  I don’t know yet if there is an American version, but will check and get back to you.

Thanks to Maria and her blog Life Long Book Passion for the link to Post Pals!

Now get writing!

Egyptian pen pals

In high school, waaaaay back in the early 90s, I had Egyptian pen pals.  They were two guys named Sameh and Aiman, both college students.  Sameh was majoring in engineering and wanted to be a police officer.  Aiman was an English major and hoped to be an interpreter or guide.  I think we found each other as pen pals because we had a common love for collecting stamps (we were philatelists, if you want the official term).  Our letters largely revolved around exchanging stamps, stories about our families, and information about our countries and cultures. 

We wrote back and forth for a couple years.  Occasionally, Aiman would send me drawings.  I’m not so sure he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, too.  His letters took a somewhat romantic turn:

I somehow skirted those overtures and eventually we fell out of touch after I went to college.  Given the unrest in Egypt lately, I was thinking about my old pen pals and wondering how they might be involved, hoping they are safe.

As I sat and pondered what their lives were like now, it was nice to have the pile of snail mail to sift back through to conjure memories.  What gifts letters can be so many years later. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to share more blasts from the past.