Sending snail mail for the first time

Snail mail has played a huge part in keeping my family together during those long years when my father had to work abroad. He was part of a UN mission during the 90s, which meant that he moved to different countries every so often. But despite growing up in a family of keen letter writers, here’s one thing about me: I’ve never sent nor received mail in my whole life. Besides bills and tax filings, that is. The main reason I could think of is that I grew up in the internet age, where email and instant messaging are the main forms of communication. My siblings (who are almost a decade older than me), on the other hand, grew up writing letters to our dad abroad. They would write about anything they could think of: my brother’s typical school day, my dad’s experience in the field, my sister’s requests for new toys, all those things. We have a large plastic envelope filled with old letters and sometimes I would just stop what I’m doing and read all of them. Reading those letters served as a way for me to get to know each member of the family when they were still younger. It amazed me how simple life was back then.Β Although nowadays they tell me stories about how long it takes to receive a letter, I’ve always loved the idea of holding a letter in my hand and waiting excitedly for a reply. That’s why I decided to try sending mail for the first time last month, and I wrote to my friends who are living in the United States.

I sent my friends a letter and some Instax photos of us during my visit to the US. This idea came about when I was organizing my travel souvenirs. Besides the usual plane tickets and brochures, I also found lots of Instax photos that I forgot to give before we parted ways. Since they were already on my travel journal, I thought I could just send them printed Mini copies of our photos (using my Instax Share). Besides, I thought that it would make them happier to hold an actual photo instead of just looking at it online. I told them about my idea first and they got excited as well; they even told me that finally they would receive something in the mail besides bills and subscriptions!

I was absolutely clueless at first on how to go about the whole letter writing thing. I was so used to expressing my thoughts in the most concise way possible (blame Twitter for this) so I made an effort to make my letters special. Another thing, I didn’t even know what stamps were for (I know, loser right?) until I went to the post office. The post office is pretty far from our house and I could have asked someone to send the letter for me but I wanted to do everything myself! I felt great when the letter was finally stamped and sent!

The letters arrived sooner than I expected; I was told that they would arrive in three weeks, but my friends got my letters two weeks after I sent them. They were so ecstatic when they finally got their mail to the point that they even competed who got it first, and of course I loved their reactions too!Β They kept on thanking me for taking time to send them something andΒ I think it made us feel closer to each other because there’s a personal touch to every piece of mail I sent them. It’s a really exciting experience to send snail mail and I would do this again, just to get back that old feeling!

22 Comments

  1. There is something about snail mail that email and online messages just cannot capture. My friend and I exchange letter books, and those take a long time to write for us, but the time we take to write to each other is worth it.

    It actually makes sense that you wouldn’t be familiar with it because of the Internet, but I’m glad you decided to get into it and learn some skills that will help you later in case the Internet ever dies and you want to contact someone, snail mail is one way to do it!

    1. Yeah, I decided that I wanted to write a letter to my friends because I thought it was kinda sad that I didn’t know how to send mail, when it’s considered an important form of communication. It’s good that you have someone to write to so you still get to send thoughtful letters from time to time!

  2. I’ve only written letters to a few friends of mine whilst they have been away for university but they usually reply to me via social networking sites which is sad seeing as I love receiving written mail. Its so magical to me – seeing the effort put in to write and send it πŸ™‚

  3. For awhile, I was doing snail mail in my youth and even started doing it with a friend. It does keep everyone together, which I love and it’s very personal unlike computers or email.

    I’m glad that you decided to try it and it worked out alright. Like Tara said, you have the skills for something different if the internet does go out.

    1. That’s cool! πŸ™‚ I don’t have a lot of friends to write letters to, which is also why I just started learning it now. LOL! But I agree, it does have a personal touch and you will really feel the thoughtfulness of the person who wrote the letter πŸ™‚

  4. I don’t send mail much, so I feel you on the struggle to write a meaningful message. I like to send out care packages but most times, there’s only a quick message on it. I should work on that. XD

  5. Wow, I must be showing my age. I used to write and send snail mail all the time when I was younger! The only time I do it now is when I send cards, like for Christmas or a thank you card.

    I think that’s awesome that your family kept old letters. Those must be so fun to read. I also think that’s a great idea to send your friends the Instax photos! Snail mail really does have more of a personal touch!

    1. My family’s letters were really nice to read! I love how they never run out of things to write! Sounds like they led exciting lives before I came along, haha! πŸ™‚

  6. I can’t imagine not having the experience of writing snail mail letters! I used to send them a lot, really A LOT. I had pen friends from age 11, and continued writing letters while growing up, in one way or the other, and continued doing that until e-mail, forums, and social networks took over. It was such a special feeling to get a letter in your mailbox, that e-mail will never be able to replace.

    1. It’s so nice that you got to experience sending lots of letters when you were younger. I also find it cool that you had pen pals! It’s a great way to get to know new people, but right now I don’t see a lot of people writing letters to pen pals anymore.

      I agree that receiving something in the mail feels really great, especially in these days when we’re used to everything instant.

  7. Wow, that is so amazing to hear that you had never sent a letter in the post or received one. It seems weird to be because I used to do it all the time to friends when I was younger, but it’s probably not as strange to new generations. It’s great that you could look back on the old letters that your family sent and see them in a different/younger light. πŸ˜€

    That is so great that you sent the letters and that they really liked them. If you take the time to write a nice personal letter it can really mean a lot to other people. πŸ˜€

    I hope you get some back!

    1. I actually struggled a lot in writing the letter because I wasn’t used to writing long and thoughtful messages, but I’m glad they appreciated my effort πŸ™‚

      Lol, I wish for the same thing. Haha! I hope I get some mail back from my friends abroad XD

  8. One of my best friends moved in middle school and we would write letters to each other all the time! But other than that, I don’t send a lot of snail mail besides thank you notes (I am a big proponent of thank you notes!). I love checking the mail and seeing that there is a card or letter from someone I know – usually it’s just around my birthday from relatives, haha. There really is something about getting something physical compared to just an email or text. That was a great idea to send your friends those!

    1. Wow, it must feel so nice receiving something in the mail, no matter if it’s a card or a letter from someone who matters to you. I love that! It’s nice that you had someone to write letters to when you were younger, it keeps the magic of snail mail alive πŸ˜€

  9. I still prefer snail mail over email. It’s mostly due to the fact that I get excited about getting a letter in the mail, that’s handwritten and I can see how the person writes. I have this weird thing or quirk that I need to see what a person’s handwriting looks like. As a kid, I have received a few post cards here and there when a friend of mine would go to Washington to visit family. She would tell me what she has been doing and the like. It was pretty cool. My aunt would do the same thing from time to time as well. This was my favorite aunt up until recently. I thought that her and I could pick our writing back up, but something happened to prevent it.

    My dad would always receive letters from his friends, and I would always wonder why I didn’t receive any. He would ask “Do you write to anyone?” I would answer “No.” He would then say “That’s why.” I have had a couple of cool and interesting Japanese and Chinese pen pals before in the past. We’ve lost touch over time, and me moving. Sometimes, the postage gets a little expensive as well. I wrote to Kya one day and sent her a care package of just little things for her birthday, and that costed me a little over $50.00 just to mail out 3 or 4 little things and a birthday card to Australia. I mean, that was a lot more than the package I sent over to Georgie one year. I sent her a journal, and a Robert Frost poetry book, because I know that she loves writing Poetry, but didn’t know if she liked reading them from others. That only costed me a little under $50. I guess it varies from post office to post office.

    I love receiving letters. In fact, I sent my first ever letter to Joy of whimsicaljoy.com some time last week and she received it already. She’s going to send mine on Tuesday, because the post offices are closed due to the Pope being in Pennsylvania. Would you like to snail mail letters with me?

    1. I heard that postage is quite expensive in other countries, which surprised me because it’s incredibly cheap here in the Philippines. My other friends and relatives said that it’s one of the reasons why they don’t write to us often, which is sad πŸ™

      That is cool! Of course I’d love to snail mail letters with you πŸ™‚

  10. Aww, this is absolutely charming. I love snail mail! When I was little my friends and I used to write and mail each other letters even though we saw each other at school. A little part of me wishes that we could still do this like normal today! I mean, I used to know all my friend’s addresses because I always send them letters or whatnot, but nowadays I barely even get their phone number. We just message people on Facebook now. How spoiled are we, right? πŸ™ I miss snail mail. There really is something special about getting something in the mail vs. on your computer.

    1. It’s so cool that you still experienced writing snail mail to your friends when you were young! I didn’t have friends to write to when I was still a kid, though I did know their addresses. Snail mail does feel more personal and special than just receiving e-mail or instant messages.

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