When my grandmother died, we discovered a drawer full of letters and cards received the last few years of her life. She never mentioned she did this, so it brought a twinge to my heart knowing I have always done the exact same thing. There is just something about the hand-written mark on paper that feels special and permanent in the way a Facebook comment or email never will. Old snail mail feels like a tangible time capsule to rediscover a fleeting emotion long forgotten. Maybe I learned that from her…
What I do know is, my love for real mail originated after a summer camp that still informs my life. I went to camp during the formative years of 12 to 16 when I was an awkward, hormonal, confused tween, with an angst and energy I still chase in my dreams (and sometimes my photos). At nerd camp I learned it was OK to be smart, I wasn’t the only hormonal confused weirdo, and my current social options were purely geographical with an expiration date. I had camp to look forward to while I worked my way through the horrors of high school to graduation freedom and college somewhere else.
Needless to say, in the long-gone days before email, the mailbox became my lifeline to teenage happiness. Letters, mix tapes, handmade surveys, pieces of group writing, and doubles of film photos were like little pieces of magic from people my age who really understood me. I’d read them multiple times and spend hours with my best friend analyzing and gossiping about people she didn’t know. (I won’t even get into the notebooks and binders of notes I still have from our 20 years of friendship.)
In college, my dad started a ridiculous tradition that carries on today of sending me little bits of flotsam and cartoons from the local newspaper, Polaroids of his new jean shorts and white old man sneakers, dirty joke books from the 70s he found the basement, and back dated International Male catalogs closed captioned with a flurry of post it notes (certainly a long story for another time). To this day my aunt carries on my Gram’s tradition of mailing a greeting card for every possible holiday.
For me, the best mail has always come from those I love the most.
Lately the mail feels like an enemy — containing nothing but bills, political campaign jargon, and invitations to everyone else’s happy life events. I understand that social media is more immediate and far reaching than letters, but I miss the days of stickers and doodles and cheer waiting when I got home.
I’m hoping the addition of the postcard option to my calendar cards reminds everyone to spread a little old-fashioned cheer to fellow depressing mailboxes. (hint hint)
PS – The bonus to this idea? It gives my photos (a moment frozen in time) one life as a calendar and hopefully a second as one of my favorite things! I hope the calendar images inspire everyone to take a moment to drop someone they love a tiny piece of real unexpected mail in 2018.
PPS – If you don’t have anyone to write to or would like to send me your thoughts on the #tinydeskcalendars, drop your 5×5 card in the mail to:
344 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302