Write a Letter, Save the Post Office

As CNN Money reporter Jennifer Liberto reports in her article Postal Service barred from borrowing more*, the United States Postal Service has found itself wedged between a cancelled stamp and a hard place.


I, for one, am not about to sit idly by and let cryptic electronic transmissions replace and eventually obliterate a cherished, albeit nostalgic, mode of communication from our not-too-distant past: hand-written letters.


When our older boys were still in middle school, we taught them the art of writing well thought out thank you cards to their teachers at the end of each school year. In part, this was a way to show off their newly-mastered cursive writing skills, but it served a larger purpose – to let their teachers know that their efforts were appreciated, their lessons didn’t fall on deaf ears and that they would be remembered as having made a positive impact on their lives. If they could not be sincere, a note was not sent.

(Photo credit – Austrian Postal Service)

Given the positive responses they got back, my boys quickly learned the benefit of taking the time to pen a deliberately thoughtful note. This mode of communication has the power to touch people in ways that a quickly typed email or text just can’t.

When my older sister headed off to college, I wrote to her frequently, sending letters and cards that she has kept to this very day. I can’t say the same for emails I may have sent to her back in the late nineties when electronic communication began elbowing its way into our lives, amazing us with its speed and accessibility.

By the time my son headed off to college, I was still getting complements from friends on the touching thank you notes they received from him for his graduation gifts. With pen pals around the world, I knew my boy had been bitten hard by the romantic notion that nothing is finer than opening a mailbox and finding a hand-written letter from a friend or loved one. As such, I made a vow to write him. Often.


Between work, family and, oh, life, I quickly forgot all about my vow. And then there was this new smart phone that my son had picked out for my birthday. He showed me how to use it just days before he left.

My Texting Thumbs

My firsts attempts at texting were not pretty. Especially if I didn’t have my reading glasses with me. And my thumbs suddenly felt like they were as big as maracas.

Case in point, at the end of a school day, when one of my high schoolers texts, “Pick me up?”, my reply more often than not reads, “ob.jy day” instead of “on my way”.

Would a hand-written, post office-delivered missive help in this case? Possibly, as would smoke signals.

By the time it takes me to use my thumbs/maracas to correctly type my response, my son can text me a three-paragraph synopsis of his day.

It wasn’t until my college boy ever-so-tactfully asked me to look over a term paper he had written that I remembered my vow to send him frequent hand-written letters. The topic of his paper? Modern correspondence and the lost art of letter writing. He used the beautiful graphic from the Austrian Postal Service’s recent campaign (above) to illustrate his point.

Shamed, I put pen to paper – not to write out a grocery list, but to actually write him a letter. Half way through the first sentence, though, I was digging in my junk drawer for a bottle of white-out I had noticed in there a few years back, hoping it wasn’t completely dried out. Still, I muddled through and cranked out a page and a half of relevant if not timely news. I also popped in wallet sized photos of his brothers’ new class pictures.

As expected, he was thrilled to see the flat little gift in his mailbox and I promised to send more. All for the low, low, low, low price of a postage stamp.

So, what do you say? Ready to help the United States Postal Service return to solvency?

Good! Now, log off and go write a letter!


(*money.cnn.com, October 17, 2012)


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