Summer and fall are excellent times for vacation, and there is no better way to share those experiences than by sending postcards and notes by mail. It’s quick, it’s easy, and there are beautiful options to represent those good times. But more to the point, postcards and notes are a great way to communicate, anytime and any place.
“Having a great time in (fill in the blank). Wish you were here.” This is a standard cliché about messages on postcards, that they are rote and say very little. But nothing could be further from the truth. A postcard can say a lot, not simply about a destination, but also about the sender. While the message on a postcard may be brief, it establishes or maintains a connection. In short, it says “I care about you.”
Several years ago, in the early days of this site, the main focus of the blog was the art of letter writing. Comments, however, indicated that while letter writing was rare and treasured, postcards and notes were equally appreciated.
Sandra D. wrote, “I used to send friends postcards. They were for no particular reason. Just cards and short notes I thought they would enjoy. I think I may start this again. I have a ton of postcards waiting. Not letters, but it’s a start.”
Poet and playwright Jewelle Gomez added: “I, too, love sending postcards just for the fun of it. I keep a stack in my office and pop one out when a friend comes to mind or their name comes up. I have two friends I can count on responding to a letter when I send one. That’s been true for 20 years. And I’ve never gotten over the excitement of seeing a hand addressed envelope in my mailbox.”
Writer and food blogger Mary Ladd conveyed a message about the importance of reaching out to people during difficult times: “The day after I came home from the hospital following a major surgery, I was drawn to five envelopes that were handwritten. For me! From friends! Sitting down and mulling over the kind and loving messages helped me feel relaxed and cared for, and a deeper connectivity to the sender(s).”
It is my good fortune to live in a beautiful part of the country, and to have neighbors, colleagues, and good friends with whom I share walks, lunch dates, museum outings, special holidays, and more. But there are other special long-term friends, as well as dear family members, who live far away.
The multiple means we have today of communicating and staying in touch are unprecedented, and each one adds value to our relationships. New tools and apps, including smart phones and watches, text messaging, social media and more have become essential for real time communications.
More urgently, for those affected by a modern plethora of disasters, including terrorist acts, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other life-changing events, technology has become essential. But for non-emergency social correspondence, when timeliness is of less importance, nothing beats receiving postcards and notes in the mail.
This past month has brought me some very special cards and notes, enabling me to vicariously enjoy cities and towns in Greece; the ponies of Chincoteague; art from Taipei, Taiwan; and a vintage view of l’Esplanade des Invalides in Paris. The most unique card that came recently to our mailbox features an artist’s rendering of two early ‘60s Volkswagen buses meeting up on Old Route 66. This card and others about Route 66 are available at the Litchfield (IL) Museum. Thanks to Nancy Slepicka, marketing guru, retired newspaper editor and bookstore owner in Hillsboro, IL.
Just as the popularity of e-books and audiobooks rose rapidly over the past decade, people still turn to the tactile pleasure of reading a book printed on paper. As technology evolves, there will always be new, more efficient ways of doing things. But keep those pens, stamps and cards handy. Technology need not replace the personal touch of handwritten letters, postcards and notes.
National Park Service Route 66 Map
Wikipedia. Chincoteague, VA
Wikipedia. Esplanade des Invalides
Wikipedia. Jewelle Gomez
Wikipedia. Santorini, Greece