The poor Post Office is falling to pieces, yet another thing the interwebs has consumed. As a kid I might have cheered the Post Office’s demise, given how my town’s was populated by tattlers who reported on what people sent and received (my friend was grilled by his mom for sending out for and receiving punk records, his mom given the knowledge by a worker friend there), or who were incapacitated by my request for return envelope postage when mailing stories off to magazines. The Eighties brought us Cliff Clavin and “going postal”, seemingly endless stamp price increases and Reagan’s disdain of such unionized no-goods. But now I know better. The Founders were wise to write the Post Office in.
I do my part. Unlike my GenX brethren, I’ve sent out Christmas cards since high school. Now they seem more important than quaint. Now even health insurance companies are realizing the interwebs exist and fanning out their blizzard of virtual paper there, leaving your box empty of bad-to-incomprehensible news. Tuesdays and Thursdays I get advertising mail: pizza coupons and the kind of junk old people buy, like gold-colored return address labels, strange undergarments, and dog statues. Most days my box is empty.
Getting and sending Christmas cards is a small delight. Another real person, in another real place, has taken a moment in time to send you a real thing. Distance and time give the act its value, something our quest for instantaneity has robbed us of. Like all advances, we don’t realize what we had until we don’t have it any more.
So this post is an adapter, a converter, between the real and the ephemeral, the known and the common but no less valuable. I don’t know who you are, but whoever you are, I am glad you came here, took this thing and put it in your sideless box. It’s a gift to myself as much as to you, which, I realize, is the heart of giving.