RED-LETTER SATURDAY #3:
On this day, July 26, 1775, the office that would become the United States Post Office Department was established by the Second Continental Congress, appointing Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General. It was a day which helped to improve communications in the birth of new nation, a vital component in the formation of the young United States of America.
The United States Postal Service delivers more mail to more addresses in a larger geographical area than any other post in the world. Last year, they processed 158.4 billion pieces of mail and handled 873.3 million inquiries. But I would venture to say that these numbers would be even higher were it not for the technological age that we live in today.
After all, when was the last time that you received a handwritten letter? Let me guess. If I’m right, it was probably at Christmastime, folded up neatly and tucked away inside a Christmas card. Many of us have those few relatives or friends who never fail to recount us with all that has happened during the past year in a nicely written Christmastime letter. You know the kind of letter I’m talking about. It’s the one that gives you a detailed account of what jobs the husband and wife are currently holding, what promotions they’ve received, if any, what home improvements they’ve made, what vacations they’ve taken during the year, how their various hobbies or activities are coming along, how their children are doing, how old the children are now, what grades the children are in, what sports and activities the children are involved in, what achievements they’ve made, what awards they’ve won, and the list goes on and on. Right? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying those letters are bad. Not at all. In fact, sometimes they’re just wonderful. But they are predictable.
And isn’t it sad that we don’t receive these letters at another time of the year besides just Christmastime? After all, wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to receive a letter in the middle of February or at the end of April or at the beginning of October? Wouldn’t it be nice if these letters were sent to you when you didn’t expect them? Or better still, what if you received these kinds of letters from people all the time? What if you weren’t surprised to receive these kinds of letters on a regular basis?
Yes, I know that there’s email. I know that it’s quick, easy, and it saves paper. But there’s just something quite lovely about retrieving that envelope addressed to you from your mailbox, physically holding it in your own two hands, touching it, even smelling it, that gives you that wonderful feeling of knowing that someone cared enough to take the time to sit down, write you a letter, put it into an envelope, place a stamp on it, and then post it, just for you. Now really, tell the truth – don’t you wish that now and then, you’d get a nice letter in the mail from a friend or family member?
The other day I received a letter in the mail from my oldest daughter. When I first opened it, I was worried because I was afraid of what I might read, although I’m really not sure why. I guess I’m just so conditioned to not receiving a handwritten letter, that I was certain it could only mean bad news. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was no bad news. All she wanted to do was to surprise me by giving me a lift to my day, and indeed she succeeded.
And so, if you have some free time this week, why don’t you think about writing a letter of your own and sending it to someone you care about? I guarantee that they’ll probably be surprised, but I can also guarantee that you will make them happy.
Besides, I think we should start using our post office before we lose it. Wouldn’t that be a shame?
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s funny; in this era of e-mail and voice mail and all those things that even I did not grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy.” ~ Elizabeth Kostova
This post is presented as part of my special weekly feature, Red-Letter Saturday. If you’d like to to know more information about Red-Letter Saturday, simply click here: