Send out Christmas cards this year!

I’ve never stopped sending Christmas cards by post to friends and family. Even in an age of social media, e-mail, texting (and the like) a Christmas card – especially with a brief handwritten note – is more personal and can bring a better sense of connection with another.

I think modern tech can make us lazy. We get accustomed to communicating with “everyone at once” – That is, posting an update on social media for all to see, or sending a group text or e-mail, and we communicate less with individuals. Yet, folks can still feel isolated and lonely despite all this communicating. I’ve read articles highlighting this – a personal touch is lost.

Particularly with the difficult year 2020 has been, make an effort to send out Christmas cards! Touch base with old friends or family you have been out of touch with. Send a card to those you have only “group” communicated with. Give neighbors a card. Remember anyone elderly in your life. Etc.

Write a note or brief letter with the card – share your news, but inquire about them too. While it is not necessary, you could get creative and decorate the envelope. This could be as simple as putting some holiday themed stickers on it, or rubber stamping or using washi tape. Send a real photo of yourself or your family. Wow – a tangible, developed photo rather than a digital photo shared on social media or text.

Help folks remember the pleasures of the post – the tangible and personal nature of a card in the mail – this Christmas.

Do you like the IDEA of letter writing but perhaps not actually doing so?

A fairly common complaint I observe is that someone agrees to begin a pen pal friendship, but then never actually writes! One individual sent the first letter but never gets a reply. On occasion, perhaps the receiver realized they did not “connect” with or have enough in common with the writer, but I think that is the case only occasionally. More often than not, I think the problem is…

Someone liked the IDEA of letter writing more than actually doing so.

Someone liked the IDEA of finding letters in their mailbox, but didn’t quite consider the effort or needed commitment to find such letters in the mailbox.

It takes time and effort to write a letter. You must sit down with a pen and paper, do a little thinking and contemplating, decide what to write, and then actually begin writing. It involves quieting yourself and focusing, in a world that so often has us distracted and busy. And to form a friendship by mail it takes commitment and dedication, that is, continuing to write in the future even if life circumstances change.

Related to this, is knowing your “pen pal limit” – How many pen pals can you write and be able to keep up, answering with a quality letter in a reasonable time frame? This will vary from person to person. My personal pen pal limit has typically been 15-20, but yours could be much less or more.

How much free time do you have? How much energy do you have? How much do you really like writing?

How much do you enjoy associated things like stationery, note cards, etc? Some of us just love stationery and related hobbies like paper crafts.

These are all important things to consider. Realistically, you may only want 1 or 2 pen pals, while someone else can handle 15-20.

If you are new to pen pals, start slow. Add 1 or 2 new pen pals at a time. If you are keeping up, add 1 or 2 more. Etc. Eventually you’ll realize you have reached your limit.

Writing pen pals has made a comeback in recent years, but before jumping in make sure you like more than the IDEA of it, but have considered the time and effort involved as well.

Links to other postal/letter blogs

In the right column of the blog, you’ll note some links to other blogs. One blog I’d removed as the link no longer worked, but I discovered the blog moved to a different url and had a slight name change. New link here: Mrs Murphy’s Musings on Mail.

And I will add to the list, two other blog I recently discovered:

Musings of a letter writer, stamp user and occasional Postcrosser

Vintage Paper History

Have fun exploring, but don’t let it distract you from putting pen to paper! I sometimes ponder the incongruity of writing about the importance of tangible communication on the internet, but it is a helpful way to make connections and get ideas. Happy writing!

** Postman’s Treasure is a free wordpress blog, and because it is free, you may see ads. Sorry about that, and please know that I do not have any control over the ads you see. **

Pen pals and swapping stuff by mail

Swapping. This is a term pen pals use. Some pen pals are into “swapping” or trading things like stationery, note cards, or stickers. It can be a formal thing, an expectation that you will swap a certain amount each time. For example, it is agreed upon to exchange one note card every letter.

I’ve usually not done swapping, but that does not mean I never enclose stationery or stickers with a letter! If I enclose such, I am not expecting anything back. I dislike sending only a letter, and always look about for something to “tuck-in” along with the letter. Tuck-in ideas here: Tuck-ins…A letter is wonderful but tuck something in too!

But one reason I am not into swapping is that, well, I can be a bit of a “snob” when it comes to stickers and stationery! I admit it. haha. I like “nice” stickers and stationery. And I’ve found that I have not been very pleased when I’ve done some swapping in the past.

For example, I send quality stickers from the scrapbooking section of a craft store, and receive back round teacher stickers – ya know, the type of stickers teachers place on a paper that say “good job” or similar. Or I send a quality note card or stationery (say from Punch Studio or Hallmark or Papyrus), and receive back a cheap note card from a dollar store.

A couple times I felt like a pen pal was trying to take advantage. They observed the stationery I use to write my letters, and then mentioned wanting to swap, apparently hoping to acquire some of the same – but sending me low quality, mediocre stationery in return.

Wow – I hope I don’t sound super snobby. But with swapping, I have an expectation that what is swapped back and forth will be of a similar quality – a fair exchange.

However, as said, I do enclose things with just about every letter I send – see the “tuck-in” post I linked to above.

Who could you remember with a card?

I’ve not been keeping up with my letter writing to pen friends during this pandemic as well as I should be, and that would be another post! But I have been doing other types of communicating with cards and notes by post (or hand delivery) to others.

Earlier in the pandemic I made an effort to mail out cards to various friends, family, and acquaintances – just to be friendly and communicate in a more personal way, when people were first stuck at home more.

Also, prior to this pandemic, I had a ministry at a nursing home, where I led a church service for the old folks (I am a lay preacher). The nursing home has been closed to visitors and outside groups coming in, and still is. There are 61 residents, and back in May, I took 61 greeting cards there. Forty I made with my rubber stamps, and the other 21 were not handmade but I did embellish these cards to make them more personal. I was able to utilize some excess card making material I had on hand, so that was good – as some had been in my drawers too long!

I dropped the cards off at the nursing home, and they were distributed a couple days later. As a precaution, the cards had to sit a couple days first.

Now in August, I took 61 cards again, and also took word search puzzle books and some body washes. This time I purchased cards from Current. Remember Current? I’d actually not thought of Current in years, as they were more popular years ago, but they are still in business! I got a variety of card packs for a reasonable price. On each envelope I rubber stamped a couple images. Photos below. On the envelopes in May, I rubber stamped a typewriter image and wrote hello on the paper in the typewriter.

If you forgot about Current, or maybe never heard of them, here is the link: CURRENT. I just noticed their website says they have been in business 70 years.

It put a smile on my face to see they still sell the cute critter cards from years ago! I’ll put an image of these cards below too.

When I placed my card order it said there would be a mailing delay due to the pandemic, but they arrived faster than anticipated, so that was great!

Letter writing…quality vs quantity

I’m a life-long pen pal, and certain pen pals say they want “long letter” pals. This does not (usually) mean the person wants to exchange 10 page letters, but that they are not interested in brief letters that only contain superficial thoughts about the weather. They want letters with more effort and depth, that are more than “I did this and I did that” but also share thoughts/ideas, and interact with the letter received.

However, it is not necessarily the length of a letter that makes it worthwhile. Over the years, I’ve received a variety of letters. I’ve gotten letters that were:

very long but Iow quality
and
brief letters that were high quality.

How so?

For example, very long letters that were nothing but monologue – “I did this and I did that” with no dialogue whatsoever. These letters can read more like a diary entry, a record of what someone has done, and lack a personal touch. Even after receiving such letters for a while, the person remains a stranger to me. I know what they have done, but not who they are.

And then there are letters much briefer by comparison, but are a blend of personal news, responding to the letter received with thoughts or questions, and sharing personal feelings or ideas about something in life. After receiving such letters for a while, I feel like I am really getting to know this person. In other words, a friendship is developing! I have a sense of who they are as a person.

So…perhaps the point is to not get hung up on the length of a letter, but to keep quality in mind as well.  I’d rather receive 3 page personal letters where a friendship is growing, than 10 page letters where the person remains a stranger.

 

 

 

A cute postcard related to COVID-19

I’ve not been writing on Postman’s Treasure recently. After international mail taking 6-8 weeks, when it would normally take 1-2 weeks, things seem to be speeding back up with delivery times. At least, I have received a couple letters from Europe that only took about 10 days. Yeah!

Today I received a postcard from Singapore, through postcrossing, and I loved its focus on the current situation with COVID-19. Note everyone and everything is wearing a mask, and they seem to be keeping some social distance too.

Mail delivery times and COVID-19

Just a brief post this time. When I blogged in the early stages of COVID-19, mail was still being delivered in a timely fashion, not taking more time than typical, or only slightly longer than typical. However, that has changed.

For example, I received the first week of May a letter sent to me from England in late March/early April. Or I just received a postcrossing postcard sent to me from Holland, that was sent 46 days ago! This is very slow for mail between the US and Europe. (In normal times, 5-10 days is typical.) But at least the mail is eventually getting there. Thanks postal workers of the world!

Within the US, I’ve not noticed any delays with personal postal letters. But there are delays with packages, as “essential items” are given priority.

How has mail delivery been for you?