When I was a kid, I used to check the mail box every day after school. My cousins and I were pen pals and I would wait excitedly to receive their letters. Sometimes, the letters would contain a new sticker or a pressed flower from their yard. Once I received one, I would quickly write a letter back and return a gift of stickers or flowers. Then, I would place the letters in my top dresser drawer where I knew I could find them to read whenever I wanted.
In my twenties, I came to realize the mailbox had lost a lot of its magic. The long walk up the driveway was dreaded. There was nothing in the mailbox that I wanted. Phone bills. Power bills. Water bills. Insurance. Bank Statements. Student loans statements. Give me a break!!
My boyfriend expressed the same sentiment and that gave me an idea. What if I sent him a letter? Even better… what if I sent him a letter with our New Year’s Eve picture? The message was a simple one:
I sent this so you would get something other than bills in the mail. I love you.
Two years later, that picture and message are still on the refrigerator.
Now, I am addicted to bringing the magic of the mailbox back for my friends and family, as well as for myself. Friends call me to tell me my letters arrived and that I should expect to receive one from them soon. I catch myself walking a little faster to the mailbox searching for them.
A New York Times article was published on December 13, 1886 titled The Joy of Receiving a Letter. It is the view of a mail carrier about people waiting for the mail. It may seem a bit outdated but it has reminded me of that joy and excitement that I had been missing.
“There are some people on my beat who, I really think, don’t do anything else but sit down and wait for me to come. They stand at the window or front gate and wait for me, they tremble with anxiety as I approach, they groan and cower if I say ‘nothing to-day; and if I hand them a letter they fly with it into the house as if they had picked a pocketbook and were going off to a secret place to inspect its contents.”
With the internet and everything being done at the speed of light, it is easy to forget the difference a hand-written letter can make, but there is a reason that we still send Birthday Cards and Holiday Cards in the mail. We don’t need to wait for the holidays to make someone’s day.
For me, the magic of the mailbox has returned. I wonder if kids today still experience that feeling of joy when receiving something. Maybe it’s time to bring the joy back.