On Envelopes, Mail, Stationery, and the Art of Sending Mail

Lately, most mail is junk or packages. And I adore receiving packages in the mail in the form of surprises from redditgifts or in the form of extra goodies in something I ordered, or even in the form of subscription boxes (yes, I currently subscribe to two: NerdBlock and BonjourJolie, though I'm very tempted by WhimseyBox as well…). Even Kickstarters can surprise me at times: some rewarding me with additional items, and others rewarding me with better quality than expected. Junk gets mostly recycled (and occasionally shredded first).

But I do love the feel of sitting myself down and writing a good letter or a postcard and plopping it in the mail. Sometimes I pull out the glass pen and inkwell and spend time trying my best to not make a terrible horrible mess of my writing. The last time I did that was to write condolence cards but I try to use these great tools for both positive and negative occasions. It being November, I imagine I'll take my time to write (probably without the pen and inkwell though) Christmas cards to an ever shortening list of people. At other times I spend a while with wax seals trying my best to put them on letters without singeing my fingernails. Or using rubber stamps, stickers, and/or embossing ink to make an envelope more attractive or unique.

I don't often buy cards: instead I have a HUGE selection of stationery and cards that I've accumulated over the years and I try to search through this for each occasion that warrants my writing to find the perfect piece of paper on which to write. Because even if it might seem like a lot of work it is a) more cost effective b) more fun and c) often more unique than buying a new card from the store each time I want to write something.

I write because I love to read. I write because receiving personal mail, of the postcard/card/letter variety is so amazing to me. When I was a kid, I treasured my penpals. Nowadays, I use social media as more of a replacement for those penpals who more often than not never wrote back, and I don't actually expect a response for most of my cards/letters/messages sent out into the void of either social media, blogging, postal mail or otherwise. But I do appreciate many of these responses. I don't have a fireplace mantle on which to display this type of thing but they go out on my bookshelves on display for me to enjoy and reread and occasionally share with friends, family, or acquaintances when they visit.

Sometimes I long for the mythical times when postal mail was quick (in the novels people could send a letter and receive a response within the very same day!), efficient, and included replies. Where exchanges of letters were longform and not just limited to 140 character tweets or Facebook discussions (not to mention all the other social networking sites that exist now). When I could expect to receive as many holiday cards as I sent.

But I also know that for me, mail is a very different, highly appreciated thing than the thing that others might treat it as being. And that might happen to be partially because I adore the written word, and have been extra aware of epistolary writing and even as a teen wrote papers on the use of writing within literature. I love to write because I love to read. And just because I've been reading graphic literature more than most other forms (other than social media ones) as of late, doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the other forms that I enjoy reading and writing.