It’s That Time of Year

The catalogs have been arriving in the mail for months, because it’s that time of year.  The solicitations for charitable and political donations come in multiples every day, and even a few early holiday cards, letters, and invitations are trickling in.  The holiday season is upon us! The best holiday mail, of course, is personal:  the letters and cards that keep us in touch with family and friends, near and far.  I treasure these communications, and have trouble recycling them, even years after receipt.  The typical holiday letter has evolved over time.  These days, few people…

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Scams and Fraud

Despite spam filters on our email and posted warnings from banks and other financial institutions, scams and fraud seem more prevalent today than ever.  Clearly, scams would not exist if they were not successful. Newly released (Feb. 2023) Federal Trade Commission data shows that consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, an increase of more than 30% over the previous year.  Topping the list are investment scams, followed by imposter scams. Scams and fraud seem to be hitting home.  Those poorly written, error filled emails such as the Nigerian Prince scam, which has…

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What’s in Your Mail?

National Postal Worker’s Day was July 1, which seemed like a good time to check out what’s in your mail. As people have moved from doing business through the mail to electronic communications, first class mail has declined.  Banking, including bill paying, and personal communications have largely moved online.  Only occasionally do I receive handwritten notes, cards, letters, or postcards, and I suspect that I am not alone.  Even event invitations are conveyed electronically, through sites that track responses (RSVPs) and comments from invitees. Since 1926, the USPS has tracked mail volume by type of mail.…

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Pandemic Pen Pal

Many of us are experiencing a new normal – perhaps working from home, avoiding theaters, dining outdoors – and with these new Covid restrictions, what better time than now to develop a written correspondence with a pandemic pen pal? Commonly, pen pals are people who seek friendships and new experiences through the exchange of letters, often among people who have no previous connection.  Many people favor international correspondence in order to learn and better understand the culture and customs of another country.  In the early days of Social Correspondence, I often read sweet stories about long-term…

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A Random Letter in the Mail

Have you ever received a random letter in the mail?  Random, as in an unanticipated, handwritten note or letter? The use of first-class mail has been in decline for decades, and letters have become almost rare.   Any letter or note in the mail is a gift, whether it be a thank you note, a birthday card, a holiday greeting.  But most of our communications today are virtual, via social media, email, text messaging, and more, using multiple platforms. Given the shift in how we communicate, a random letter in the mail is a welcome surprise.  Within…

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The Etiquette of a Condolence Letter

Recently, the need arose for me to write a condolence letter.  Over the years, I have sent many cards and notes to friends who had suffered a loss, but this time was different.  It was a friend who died, a friend with whom I had been out of touch for several years.  I did not know her family or how to contact them, yet it felt important to reach out to them. Handwritten notes As a first step, I contacted the senior living community where she had been living, in an upscale city located to the…

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Politics and Pandemic

Land's End, San Francisco At last, there is good news on the horizon, a promise that a year dominated by politics and pandemic will soon be over.   Politics never go away, but hopefully, the days will become calmer now that the November presidential election is finally over and a new administration is on the horizon.   With two new vaccines rolling out, there also is hope that the pandemic will subside in the first half of 2021.  Election years are always difficult, but 2020 was a doozy.  It was a brutal year in almost every way possible. …

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The Chain Letter Has Returned

A grammatically challenged chain letter invites poetry contributions In a recent two-week period, I received six chain letter invitations.  Other than one overlap, each was from a person unrelated to the others.  Three of them were called “Quarantine Recipes.”  The other three, in various forms, were about passing along an inspirational quote, poem, thought, or song.  Each is structured in a short pyramid, e.g. send the requested item to the person at the top of the list, remove their name, add your name to the bottom, and repeat the request to 10 (or 20) additional, hopefully…

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Post Office Boxes by Kay Roberts
The chain letter today is distributed by email

Post Office Boxes by Kay Roberts

On a recent little vacation in Calistoga, I realized I would miss a friend’s major birthday if I didn’t find and mail her a card.  So I got myself out of a steaming pool and over to the post office.  I go to Calistoga for those steaming pools at least twice a year, but I never had occasion before to visit the post office, and when I saw the rows of beautiful old post office boxes, I became (excessively, says my husband) nostalgic. What memories of growing up in the 1940s and 50s in Cumberland, Wisconsin…

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Holiday Greetings

As another year draws to conclusion, it is time once again to extend sincere holiday greetings to friends and family, near and far. This, of course, includes the readers of Social Correspondence! Thank you for allowing me into your lives over this past year.  For those of you who have shared comments, subjected yourselves to interviews, or contributed guest columns, special thanks! Our mailbox has been filled daily for the past couple of months. First, there was that annual slew of holiday catalogs, offering tantalizing glimpses of everything from flannel pajamas to expensive electronic equipment. Despite…

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