Yesterday, Madelyn brought home her paper-bag mailbox filled with hearts, candy, and valentines from her friends at school. It was a big day for her. She dressed up in a new outfit she and Amy bought at Justice last weekend. She beamed when she came home from school, and she was thrilled with her mailbox of love throughout the evening, rereading the cards and sorting the dum-dums and candy by flavor.
I remember those days, don’t you? I know that some of my readers (Kelly especially) probably remember our elementary school days where we did just the same thing for Valentine’s Day, walking around the room and putting in our valentines for each of our friends in the decorated paper bags that were taped to the chalk rail and standing on our desks, open-mouthed and ready to receive words of love and friendship. Thank goodness some traditions are still intact in our classrooms. I’m a little surprised that some poor 8 year old hasn’t had his or her heart broken to the point that a parents’ alliance has formed against the distribution of love notes on February 14th (or any other day, for that matter). Let’s keep that one off the table, shall we parents?
This picture of me when I was six (please note my unattended niece on the top step of my porch; Wendi, by today’s standards, this would be abandonment, right?), taken as I waited for the school bus, is still one of my favorites. I loved that mailbox, and I waited every day for the mailman to arrive with the mail, hoping that there would be something for me. A card, a note, something I sent away for, or even possibly correspondence from one of the many famous writers and cartoonists I loved when I was so young. There was just something about seeing that little red flag flipped up on the right side of the mailbox, telling me and the rest of the world that we had mail.
Some things never change. The movie You’ve Got Mail captured a grown-up feeling of the same anticipation and excitement. When AOL dominated the online world (it was between AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe, I believe, as the three main genesis online mail providers back in the early ’90’s), that old gray mailbox on Littlewood Road had turned into a pixelated, digital graphic with a monotone, yet peppy male voice exclaiming, “You’ve Got Mail!”
Every day seemed like Christmas in those first few months of joining AOL.
Now, Email is considered the snail mail of the 21st century, and most people avoid the construction of messages and letters and condense their sentiments into bursts of text under 140 characters.
Some things, though, will never change. Yesterday, I read several posts on Facebook where teens were sad being passed over by friends who shared valentine’s greetings with others but not them. And, I also received a nice fb message from a friend who usually corresponds via the mailed, handwritten letter. In his note, he confessed that time has not allowed him to drop a note in the mail, but staying in touch was the more important thing in his hectic schedule.
For my friends who did not receive valentines yesterday, you know you are loved (though I understand that feeling of being passed by). And to Dave, thank you for still taking the time to say hi and check in. Words are words when you come right down to it, and we should be grateful to receive them in any form they are delivered to us.
With that said, I am a lover of letters. I have hundreds of original notecards that I’ve printed. If you would like a few free ones to help me keep the art of letterwriting alive, just send me your address in a private message (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will be happy to send them to you, free of charge. It doesn’t matter how old you are. There’s nothing quite like receiving a handwritten letter from an old friend. Surprise someone you love…What do you have to lose but .44 for the stamp?