Don’t you love getting post? Not the kind that pings onto a screen, the real kind, that surprises you as it drops through the letterbox, the kind that you can hold in your hand.
I recently had surgery, and suddenly was blessed with a flurry of post: cards, flowers, clothes, books and of course, plenty of chocolate.
Each item was different and personal, according to who sent it. I had a card painted by the little boy I work with; sunflowers from a friend – the perfect choice to remind me of her sunny personality; a mysterious cardboard box which contained a card announcing Chocolate Day and lots of chocolates to ensure its appropriate celebration; a dress; pajamas from my Grandma; flowers from my colleagues and friends; a book; lots of letters and cards.
There’s something a little magical about old fashioned post. You never quite know if or when it is going to arrive and even if you know it’s coming you have to wait for it. When it does appear at your door, there is that moment of looking at the handwriting or postmark, wondering who is it from? And then the delicious moment of opening the envelope or parcel or box, like a Christmas present. That anticipation and surprise are lost in the instant world of email and texting.
I remember the days of non-digital cameras when you used to take the film to the shop and then go back a few days later to pick up the developed photos. I used to love that moment of opening the envelope and going through the photos to see how they had turned out. Now, we rarely even print our pictures, and I miss having them in my hands and being able to put them in real, three-dimensional albums to flick through. The other day, though, I decided to order some prints from cheerz.com and now I have recovered something of that old anticipation as I wait for them to arrive, not in my inbox or onto my phone, but at my doorstep, by post. In a parcel, which I will pick up and open, pulling out a box. The box will hold a collection of glossy images, memories that can be held, not just in my mind but in my hands, and then be stored in our old brown chest in which are bundled a whole load of albums and board games and other miscellany.
As an aside, while I’m on the subject of the digitalisation of our lives, isn’t it precious to hold a real book? To smell the print and the paper as you turn the page, to be able to turn back and re-read a poignant chapter, to place it on a shelf, as much a part of your life and learning as a souvenir or a certificate. As much as I love being able to read blog posts and articles and to have less clutter on my shelves, I still treasure the feel of a book in my hands. One of the best things I received in the post lately was a book from a friend, who had also ordered a copy for herself, such a thoughtful gift.
That’s the thing about post: in our modern lives it takes a degree of effort and care to bother to send it. It is an act of kindness, which when received can bring much needed cheer and make us feel valued and loved.
So, perhaps ironically, I have written this little love letter to hold-in-your-hands, letter-box mail in the form of a blog post.
One thing I do know is that from now on I’m going to be sending a lot more letters and gifts the old fashioned way.