In this age of emails, text messages and social media, there is something uniquely appealing about opening the mailbox to find a letter or card from a loved one – so it’s no wonder more and more people have turned to “snail mail” to connect with one another during the pandemic.
According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Postal Service last spring, one in six people had been sending more mail to family and friends. In addition, nearly two-thirds of respondents said receiving a card or letter would lift their spirits and help them feel more connected to friends and loved ones, and that it meant more to them to receive a card or letter than an email.
Even before the pandemic, people looked forward to receiving physical mail. A Gallup poll from 2015 found that 94% of people love getting a letter from someone they know, 93% love getting a birthday, holiday or greeting card, and 41% of people look forward to checking the mail. This statistic jumps to 56% for people 65 and older.
There is a sense of ritual about visiting the mailbox each day to see what might be inside – a letter from a grandchild or grandparent to savor? A card from an old friend letting you know they are thinking of you? A magazine to read and enjoy? Store catalogs – which have become more rare as shoppers increasingly turn to online options – to peruse?
Bills and junk mail aside, receiving physical mail engages the senses as one savors the words that someone took the time to write by hand, or turns the pages to enjoy the contents of a favorite publication. Area residents will soon have another way to experience the unique joys of the printed word – and of receiving physical mail – as the retirement communities in Lombard and Elmhurst roll out LexTalk, a print newsletters for prospective residents this spring. These colorful, engaging publications will spotlight news about residents and how their lives have been positively impacted by their vibrant lifestyle at Lexington Squares; information about upcoming activities and events; helpful tips and resources; and more.
Physical mail can also have staying power, as decades-old shoeboxes full of old romantic missives or family correspondence can attest. Letters exchanged by grandparents during their courtship or sent home by soldiers during WWII can become cherished family heirlooms. Some letters – such as those written by an Elmhurst family while their two sons served in separate camps during the Civil War or those helping the Lombard Historical Society research Old Charley, a Freedom Seeker who spent time with Lombard’s Peck family in the mid-1800s – can even contribute unique personal perspectives to historic events.
Changing circumstances may soon allow us to reconnect with one another in person, but that doesn’t mean we need to forgo the joys of “snail mail.” Here are a few ideas for putting your own stamp on this time-honored tradition:
- Find a pen pal! Launch a continued correspondence with grandchildren, high school or college friends, or former coworkers.
- Subscribe to a magazine. It’s a great way to learn more about a current hobby or area of interest, or cultivate a new one! Many magazines also offer gift subscriptions, so you can give the joy of physical mail to a loved one at the same time.
- Send a postcard. These lightweight, colorful pieces of mail dating back to the mid-1800s offer a unique opportunity to surprise loved ones with a picture and short message.
- Purchase beautiful stationery and mail notes of appreciation and gratitude. The surprise will make the recipient’s day!
Sending mail truly is sending happiness, so enjoy the resurgence of this “old-school” form of communication – and don’t forget to check your original “inbox”!