A Little Mail Goes A Long Way — Literally

It’s the first week of March, which means it’s National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week!

I loved summer camp as a kid. The water, the high-ropes course, the games, the cute boys from mysterious, far-away places like Ely, Minn. — everything. One thing in particular stands out to me today, though: the mail.

Every year, my mom would put together a thoughtful package and mail it to me, even though I was only two hours away. It invariably included odds and ends from the dollar store for me to share, a card and cookies. One time I even got a blow-up palm tree. Getting something in the mail was almost the highlight of my week, and I’m sure those important moments instilled in me a love for the United States Postal Service.

These days, I write letters regularly (and even occasionally send packages) to friends across the metro area, across the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, across the country and sometimes across the ocean. We live in an increasingly digital world, where instant access to people across the globe is the norm — and that’s good. I couldn’t send obnoxious Snapchats to my friends in Copenhagen every day if that wasn’t true, and I would just be lost. Lost, I tell you.

But there’s just something special about mail that can never be diminished by our shrinking world. It’s a gift of thoughtful, meaningful words, a gift of time — a physical token that can be opened and unfolded, and opened and unfolded again tomorrow. Twitter is faster, but I can’t hold a hashtag. A Facebook status won’t get pinned up on your mirror and remind you that you’re missed every day.

Don’t complicate it. It’s not about flowery words or your beautiful penmanship. One of the most recent things I received in the mail was a bubble envelope with two things inside: a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, and a postcard from one of my best friends who lives in San Francisco right now. It had seven words on it.

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There is just no way you can feel crappy after coming home to this. It’s a scientific fact.

If you don’t know what to say, just say “Thinking of you” – that’s enough to make their day. I promise. Or tell them the stupidest, weirdest thing that happened to you when you were waiting in line for your coffee this week.

If you don’t have their address, text them for it. (An acceptable use of instant communication.)

If you don’t have paper, use a napkin. Use your Jimmy John’s sandwich wrapper. Use your ex-girlfriend’s birth certificate. The weirder, the better.

If you don’t have stamps, you can buy them at any bank, Walmart and even Amazon.

Just trust me — it’s so gratifying, it’s addicting. Write a letter of appreciation. You won’t regret it!