Is Nostalgia Worth $.44?

August 3, 2011

Every day when I pull into the driveway, my 3-year-old scrambles out of the car and heads straight for the mailbox. As she stands on her tippy toes and pulls down the door, she squeals with delight. “There’s mail, Mama! Mail!” Then she grabs as much as her little arms can hold and runs into the house to sit cross legged and comb through catalogs, bills, junk mail, letters, carefully sorting through the pile like it’s a found treasure.

I know that’s probably a typical reaction for a little girl, but I wish more of us looked at the postal service that way. The recent announcement made by the organization to review and possibly close 3,700 post offices across the country was shocking. Simply because I can’t bear the thought of not getting mail. And while I know the closures don’t mean mail will stop tomorrow, I’m afraid of what it will lead to in the future. I’m not three but I truly look forward to the daily surprise the mailbox holds. And if I get the added bonus of finding a personal card or letter, it lifts my spirits. “Mail!” I squeal!

However, others disagree. They continue to say times have changed. That the post office is irrelevant to modern-day life. That things are done electronically, people don’t write letters anymore, they email and update Facebook, people don’t pay bills, they e-pay, etc., etc.

Yes, all of that is true — but I don’t think that means we don’t need to connect through tangible ways. While people have migrated to an instant gratification type of communication and way of life, there are still some time-honored traditions that I believe require the services of a post office. There are weddings, babies, birthdays, traditional and Hallmark holidays. Letters to family and friends, pen pals for school children — all which I believe require cards, announcements, invites, thank yous and photos that you can post on the fridge. Because frankly, I don’t want to live in a society where birthday cards, correspondence and holiday greetings are sent via email or social media. I can’t thumb through those five, 10 and 15 years from now and reminisce. It also silences that excited 3-year-old in me when mail arrives bearing my name.

I know nostalgia doesn’t cover the $8 million deficit the post office is experiencing, but I do think it warrants a bigger fight. In my opinion, it’s priceless.