Thursday, September 8, 2011

Please Mr. Postman

Write a letter to your Aunt Fanny tomorrow.

I love to receive personal mail. Don’t get me wrong, I like hearing from friends and family via email, but it’s nothing to having a letter to hold in your hands, knowing that someone special held it, to rereading over and over and maybe even packing around in a pocket or purse. Just ask a Vietnam Vet.

When I was a child my father spent extended periods of time in the South Pacific for Boeing and the United States Atomic Testing. Fifty-five years later I still have nearly all of the letters he wrote to me. Recently I purchased an archival box to keep them in. I have most of the letters my grandmother wrote to me when I was a young adult and young mother. She was the lynch pin in our family, loved getting mail, and was good to write to everyone in the family and share family news. I hope that someday my grandchildren will enjoy reading those letters. Are they going to get to read my old emails? Not likely, but to be honest, I did print off a lot of what I got from my father before he died. Most of us just hit delete and unless you are very, very, techy or on the Homeland Security’s radar, they are gone.

I am not alone. The mother of my friend Sue kept the letters Sue wrote to her when her own daughter was tiny. Now Sue can reread them and relive her own history. And hey, this stuff can turn up interesting family history. In my grandfather’s Spanish War trunk I found a packet of love letters from a girl who wasn’t my grandmother. My grandmother was considerably younger than my grandfather and a small child when these letters were written. I’ve always wondered about this lady and what happened to her.

Now the U.S. Postal Service is in trouble due to the economy (advertizing is down—yes, that stuff you hate and throw in the recycle) and email communication. The result is that post offices all over the country are going to be closed and service seriously cut. This will be especially hard on small towns and villages that don’t have home delivery and rely on popping down to the PO to get their mail. It will also be a loss of identity for some of those little villages. If they are unincorporated and have no post office they will become an unincorporated part of some county.

Allowing the Postal Service to deteriorate is a slippery slope. We are relying that technology will always work with no interruptions of power or service. There are all kinds of disasters, manmade and natural, that could leave us with no means of communication other than the Postal Service. That was exactly the point of Kevin Costner’s The Postman. I know it got panned, but I loved it and believe that the danger of losing means of communication that do not rely on technology. My grandchildren love to receive mail and I try to oblige them, especially the ones who don’t live with me. I worry about their children and grandchildren. Will they know what “snail mail” is?

So I guess this is a call to action. Write a letter to your Aunt Fanny tomorrow. You’ll make her happy and make a memory for yourself or grandchildren.

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Yes, I love this sentiment, Stephanie! There is nothing like the actual, physical letter which comes to you, via the postal service, and is addressed in the sender's own hand. I have many letters over the years - from parents, friends, loves, and in-betweens. I treasure these mementos and wish I'd managed to save more of them over the years. Sadly, we must simplify and shed baggage. Still, I agree that our grandchildren should have the luxury of opening a slice of life from years gone by. Let's hope that snail mail will not completely disappear.