Sunday, September 21, 2014

She's still writing letters 50 years later

In The Dallas Morning News recently, attorney Susan Sanders Wansbrough writes about the first -- and only -- love letter she ever wrote. Although she may not have continued writing love letters, she did keep sending other types of letters. Her column is touching and inspiring.

I think you'll enjoy it!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tribute to an Old-fashioned Letter Writer from India

In an essay posted yesterday, Aman Sen from Massachusetts writes of "The Art of Letter Writing in an Ancient World" about the letters his family used to receive from his grandmother in the 1970s.

Like Aman, I had a grandmother who expected responses to her letters. Though my Granny may have been happy with typed letters as well as the hand-written variety, she would rarely write again until you had answered her last letter. My grandmother and I grew up in the U.S., and Aman writes of growing up in India and of the traditions he experienced there, but I get the feeling grandmothers are much the same world-wide. And, they all seem to enjoy a hand-written letter from their grandchildren.

Aman's story is one worth reading. And, who among us can't help but love the name of the site he's writing for, The Aerogram!

Some Things Are Worth Waiting For

Today, many people expect instantaneous results in everything they do. When they say “OK Google” to their phones, they want the Google voice to immediately answer their questions. When they send a text message to a friend, they sit, staring at the phone, waiting impatiently for a response. If they have to use the incredibly slow method of communication called email, they constantly hit the “check email” button, looking for a reply.

Letter writing does away with all of those expectations. Letter writing is, in and of itself, a lesson in patience. When you write a letter and place it in a mailbox, you first must wait on the postal employee to pick it up. Then, you must wait while the letter navigates the system and travels from your location to your recipient. Then, you must wait for that person to find the letter, open it, read it and respond. If they choose to reply via the mail, then the waiting process starts all over.

And, if you know a letter is coming, that eager waiting you do is called “anticipation.” Carly Simon sang about anticipation back in the 1970s.

Andy Warhol is quoted as commenting on the concept: 
“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting”  
So, with that line of thinking, we can theorize that letter writing makes your communications (or at least some of them) more exciting. And who wouldn’t want that?

If you want to make sure your letter’s recipient gets to experience the joy of anticipation, mail your letter and then send the recipient a text message or email, letting them know it’s on the way. Just don’t tell them what you’ve written, except to assure them that it’s not bad news, if they’re worrying.

Anticipation...yet another reason to write a letter!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thinking of You Week

The Greeting Card Association, a trade organization representing the UK greeting card industry, has declared next week, Sept. 22-28, as National Thinking of You Week. According to the group's website, the aim of the week is to create a wave of love, caring and happiness across the nation by joining together to send a card a day to different people during the last week in September.

How about let's make it an International Thinking of You Week? Sure, many of us write letters and send cards all of the time, but we could put forth an extra effort to send some "just because" cards and letters next week. For more information, visit the GCA's website.

(Note, this is different that the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides World Thinking Day, which is Feb. 22 and focuses on the girls learning about girls around the world.)

Mail Art Adds Another Dimension to Letter Writing

Back when I was in high school, quite a few years ago, I had many penpals from all over the world. In an effort to save on postage, many of us wrote our letters on super-thin and light-wright airmail paper, aka onion skin paper. We also often used traditional airmail envelopes.

But, I noticed that some of my penpals from Europe would make their own envelopes from magazine pages. They made the pile of mail quite interesting.

That was my first taste of "mail art," as simple as it was. Later in life, a co-worker who moved away mailed me letters in elaborate envelopes she decorated with rubber stamp images and colored pens and pencils.

Once I started this blog, I discovered the entire world of mail art. There's a great book about mail art, Good Mail Day. And several blogs on the topic (see the list I've made over in the column on the right side of this blog.

And, sometimes, bloggers who typically blog about other topics will champion mail art. For example, PostMuse often writes about the Orphaned Postcard project, but yesterday the focus was on mail art.

If you're not familiar with the concept of mail art, read up on and then try your hand at it. It's fun, and it makes the mail just a little more exciting.

So, there's another good reason to write letters...mail art!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Another Snail Mail Blog!

I've come across a very nice snail mail blog recently. I'm not sure who's responsible for it, but they are promoting snail mail with lots of photos of cute letter and envelope ideas, pen pal listings and more. The blog is simply called Snail Mail Ideas. Take a look.


Back when I was a young girl, it was romantic to think of getting or sending letters that were "Sealed With a Kiss." Alas, I was only about 12 when I first started writing real letters to friends I had left behind when my family moved, and most of my friends-turned-pen-pals were girls. So, I didn't have much opportunity to mark my letters as "SWAK."

In our funny pre-teen ways, we would make up our own acronyms, such as SWALCAKWS. Did you ever use that one? Can you figure it out? It stood for "Sealed With A Lick 'Cause A Kiss Won't Stick."

But, being able to seal a letter with a kiss is a great reason to write a letter today! If you don't have a sweetheart to send a SWAK letter to, send a funny letter that is SWALCAKWS.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Holiday Stamps -- Winter Fun!

Winter Fun postDo you follow the USPS Stamps blog? If you're interested in postage stamp news, it's the place to go!

Today, the blog features a look at the upcoming "Winter Fun" stamps to be released on Oct. 23 at the American Stamp Dealers Association show in New York, N.Y. They are so cute!

The booklet of four designs includes images of a couple ice skating, kids making snow angels and building a snowman, and of a beautiful red cardinal. Art Director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps using illustrations by Janet Atkinson, Jing Jing Tsong and Christine Roy.

In addition to these Winter Fun stamps, which will be great for everyday mailing or for holiday cards for just about any winter religious observation, the USPS is also coming out with the Christmas Magi stamps, which will complement last year's Holy Family stamps, and the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the beloved TV special. I can't wait!

USPS Winter Fun Stamps

Reason #6 to Write a Letter: Care Packages!

Last week, I started thinking of reasons for people to write letters...and the ideas just keep coming!

We started out last week with the thought that you should write a letter because it's the next best thing to being there, and we rounded up the week with the reason that writing (and mailing) letters supports your local post office.

Let's start this week off with the idea that a good reason to write a letter is that you can send it along with a care package!

Who should you send a letter and a care package to? How about:
* A college student away at school
* Military personnel far from home,
* A family member who doesn't live near the rest of the family
* A spouse or other kin who has had to go work somewhere else
* Someone who's sick or feeling down,
* Someone who's right there in the same town as you but is going through a rough time,
* Someone who goes out of their way to do things for other people
* Someone with something to celebrate, such as a birthday, an anniversary, a new marriage, a new baby, a new job, etc.
*Anyone who needs to know that you care.

What should you put in that care package? Well, the first thing you need to think about is who you are sending it to and why. If it's a friend who's been sick, you might pack up some chicken soup, a nice bowl, a soup spoon, a pretty cloth napkin, a good book to read, a small vase of artificial flowers, and, of course, some stationery, stamps and a pen.

Are you sending a package to a college student? Consider food! Homebaked goodies are still popular with that crowd. Look for recipes for sturdy cookies or breads that will be able to take the trip through the postal system. Bar cookies, oatmeal cookies, banana nut bread, brownies, etc. typically make good care package goodies. Also, think of things the college student can cook in the dorm room with the few appliances that are allowed (sometimes, that's only a hot pot for boiling water), such as ramen noodles, mac and cheese cups, cup-a-soup, flavored coffee mix. Or, opt for food that doesn't have to be cooked at all, such as cheese-and-cracker packets, peanut butter, mixed nuts, pre-popped popcorn, sturdy chips, etc. If you can, you might throw in a gift card to a standard retail store, a roll or quarters for the laundry room, a package of quirky socks, etc.

One thing to keep in mind when mailing a care package to a college student, you might want to send them a text message to let them know it's coming so that they can keep an eye out for it.

When planning a care package, always keep the recipient in mind. Try to know as much about the person as possible. Don't send a bag of peanuts to someone with a severe nut allergy. Also, think about the weather and the contents of your package. If it's the heat of summer, it may not be a good idea to send chocolate.

If you're sending a care package to a deployed military person, be sure to find out if there are any restrictions about what they can receive. has some great information.

Finally, be sure to pack the package in a way that is acceptable to the postal service. For mailing in the U.S., check out the advice on the USPS website or talk to someone at your local post office.

(Image courtesy of ClipArt101)

Friday, September 12, 2014

What a Find!

A British man is searching for the families of the writer and recipient of a letter written 99 years ago.

According to an article in the Coventry Telegraph, James Bagnall found the letter in an old book he purchased several years ago. It was written by a man named Charlie, a British World War I soldier, to Nancy Roberts, who lived in Hillfields, just outside of Coventry, England.

You can see photos of the letter and read its entire contents on the Coventry Telegraph website. It's a great piece of history!

600,000+ Reasons to Write a Letter

Writing a letter is good for the economy! How so? According to statistics from the beginning of this year, the US Postal Service employs more than 600,000 Americans. That's more than half a million people working to make sure your letters and packages get delivered. (And, if you don't live in the US, I'm sure your postal system supports your local economy, as well.)

A report released by the USPS last month indicates that First Class Mail is down again -- for the 32nd consecutive quarter. Let's boost those numbers by writing more letters!

(Photo courtesy of the USPS)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sometimes, a Letter is the Only Way

Sometimes, a letter is the only way a person knows to express their feelings and thoughts, even in this technologically advanced day and time and even when that person is a 14-year-old girl.

Many adults think that all today's youth want to do is send and receive text messages on their phones. But, fortunately, that's just not true. That point is made poignantly clear in a letter posted on the Madeleine L'Engle website.

L'Engle, the author of "A Wrinkle in Time," died seven years ago, and  Abigail, the girl who recently portrayed the main character in a stage adaptation of the book, knows that L'Engle that the author is deceased. Yet, she felt like the best way to convey her message was in a letter to the writer.

It's a good letter, and you can read it on that website.

Is there a letter you need to write today?

A Reason to Write a Letter

A very good reason to write a letter is that, if you write the right kind of letter, it will bring great joy to the person on the receiving end.

The emotion of getting a letter in the mail is captured so perfectly in these lines from the W.H. Auden poem "This is the Night Mail":
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
Make the effort to quicken someone's heart today by mailing them a letter to assure them that they are not forgotten!

(Clipart courtesy of

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Interesting Pen - and Letter - Blog

Have you seen the blog "My Pen Needs Ink"? Bob reviews mostly pens and sometimes ink, paper, notebooks, etc.

He also writes about letter writing sometimes and is encouraging people to write letters during the month of September.

Check out his blog! My Pen Needs Ink.

Why should you write letters?

I'm continuing my list of reasons to write letters. Today's reason: stationery! Almost everyone I know loves stationery and can't resist buying new paper, even when they have plenty of it at home.

To a letter writer, few things hold such potential as a blank piece of stationery. And, if you have a variety of such paper, it's sort of like a puzzle, matching the perfect stationery to the person you're writing to and the type of letter you're writing. That piece of paper can set the mood just write and make it even easier to convey your message.

Oh, yes...justification for buying more stationery is definitely a great reason to write more letters!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Janis Joplin stamps

Last month, the U.S.  Postal Service issued the fifth in its series of Music Icon series stamps. This legendary singer Janis Joplin, joining the likes of Lydia Mendoza, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix, whose stamps have already been issued.
stamp features l

To order the stamps and to see other USPS items related to the new Janis Joplin stamp, go to the US Postal Service's website.

Another reason to write a letter

Another reason to write a letter: Getting to put up the little red flag, letting the postal worker know you have an out-going letter. For those of you who don't have a street-side mailbox with a flag to raise, oh, what you're missing out on!

(Clipart courtesy of

Monday, September 8, 2014

What can letter-writing lead to? How about marriage!

The Post-Tribune website has a sweet story about a letter-writing project that turned into 45 years of marriage. You can read all about it by clicking here.

If you'd like to write to a U.S. service member serving in the military today, check out the AnySoldier website. But, I think it's best to approach such a project on the basis of friendship rather than romance

Why write a letter? Here's a reason!

As I last wrote, there are some people out there in the world who think that people aren't writing letters anymore. We know differently, of course, but I thought we might list off some reasons that we have to write letters.

Today, I'll start with what may be the most important reason to write a letter:

Writing a letter is the next best thing to being there, in some cases, it may even be better. The
recipient can open your letter, read it at his or her leisure, treasure every word you write, touch the paper you touched. He or she can hold the letter tight and imagine you sitting there writing it. They can run their fingers along the handwriting and practically feel the warmth of your hand as you wrote it. And, it doesn't have to be a love letter. Any letter that you write and mail off to someone can connect you to that person.

John Donne, an English poet who lived from 1572 to 1631, may have said it best in this line from a poem:
"...more than kisses, letters mingle souls,
For thus, friends absent speak."
To mingle souls...who needs another reason to write a letter? But, there are some other reasons, and I'll bring those up in future posts.

In the meantime, go write a soul-mingling letter!

(Clipart courtesy of
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