When I was a kid, my mom used to buy special stationery from a paper company called Current. Foldable card stock with fancy stickers, themed paper in funky shapes, cartooned envelopes and the like. Regularly she’d sit me down and make me write letters to out-of-town family. Probably most went to my Grandparents, but many went to various Aunts and Uncles, some even to a cousin whose mom did the same with him. Letters of thanks, congratulations, information and everything else were commonplace. Not a gift was received without a thank-you note on the back end. Shoot, I remember writing thank-you notes for cards received. Sure, the writing of these letters was sort of a hassle, but my mom said, “You don’t get mail unless you send mail,” and I was always thrilled to find something in the mailbox with my name etched across the front. Back then my Grandma addressed my letters, “To: Master Tommy Griffen,” and signed off as “Cookie Grandma” (she was a baker). I thought that was cool.
I took this letter-writing to the next level and sent fan mail to all my favorite sports teams and rock bands. Back then they ALL responded – often in such a personal fashion that you might think they’d been sitting around waiting for my letter. The San Francisco Giants and the Dallas Cowboys sent me big envelopes filled with photos and photocopied autographs. Letters sent directly to Larry Bird, Andy Gibb and even our local news anchors generated hand-written, personally signed notes of thanks. My bedroom walls were adorned with these items, inspiring jealousy in all my pals.
It’s a shame that barely anybody writes actual letters anymore. Seems that we are content with instant communication like email and Facebook – so much so that a scribbled note to anyone is a lost art. I miss it. I still try and send off cards (usually homemade) and letters on occasion but I definitely use the more efficient and less personal options that are available. But it really sucks telling my 86 year old Grandma thank-you for the National Geographic re-subscription in a Facebook post (although the fact that my Grandma is on Facebook in the first place is notable).
I’ve noticed that recently a few folks are turning their backs on the rabbit hole of social media in favor of old-school stamped letters. At least three of my Facebook “friends” have made posts about their social media hiatus, leaving snail-mail addresses for anyone who truly wants to stay in touch. My guess is that most internet “friends” are unlikely to bust out a paper and pen, let alone buy a stamp (shit, they are pretty expensive these days). But I am the exception. I want to write letters. I take these folks up on their offer and participate with gusto. That said, if you want a North Carolina pen pal, drop me a line. I promise, I will write back as long as you do. Cards, postcards, paper shaped like basketballs or kittens, whatever. I’m happy to keep things old school with anyone interested.
Tom Griffen, 301-B Westview Drive, Carrboro NC 27510
Here’s proof – My pal Eric’s letter to me: