Sunday, January 1, 2012

Personal Mail -- Never Outdated

Parked in front of a friend's house, I watched the mail delivery on her street. A hand which appeared from the side of a creeping vehicle shoved mail in rural-style boxes located near the curb in front of each house. In my brother's neighborhood, a bank of boxes located on a through street's boulevard holds the mail for dozens of houses. I wonder what hazards exist for the community residents stopping to grab their box's contents during rush hour traffic.

In our neighborhood, the elderly often sit on their porches and watch for their mail delivery. They usually smile and exchange a few pleasantries with their mail carrier, perhaps the only person to walk to their door that day. When I see our mailman coming, I like to meet him at the street and say hello. I think it saves him twenty steps. A vestige of the past, in our efficiency-oriented and electronic world, there is somethng welcoming about hand-to-hand delivery. It's personal.

The few cards and letters sent by friends and family are almost part of by-gone days as well. Animated cartoons, dazzling video displays and carolers singing into our computer screen replaced most of the Christmas cards we received this year. It's hard to say which I enjoyed more--the videos or receipt of cards, many with a letter enclosed.

Regardless of how they're delivered, traditional cards and letters have their place in this computer age. Last year an Alzheimer's patient in a nursing home proudly showed me her card display. Whether remembered or imagined, she had joyful stories to tell about those who sent them.

And words put to paper are not just for those who don't have a smart phone or computer. Last week, I sent a letter on personal-sized stationery to a friend's husband because I couldn't find an appropriately worded card. Only a letter would do. Tech savvy or not, when emaciated by disease, who would find pleasure reading emails?

To post it, I merely opened the front door. Our neighborhood, developed in the 1940s and 50s, knows postal service convenience. Our letter carrier not only delivers mail to our door, (our mail goes through a slot right into the house) but picks up outgoing mail clipped to the mailbox flap. When USPS cuts the service we're accustomed to, I'll miss it. But I'll continue writing personal notes on cards and attractive stationery.

"I do it so seldom, composing a letter is a chore," a woman said recently. In a future blog, I'll offer tips, because regardless of how delivered, recipients appreciate a personal note.

(c) 2012, Bernice W. Simpson

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