Summer is here! And with it stretches long, lazy days. So, here’s a thought: pen pals (yes, the old-fashioned kind). Because letter-writing really is an easy way to fill an hour or so, and to work hard on that penmanship, word structure, and thought construction. It’s communicating in what sometimes feels like a long-lost art form and as our founder, Brooke, so adequately explained in Issue Twelve: “Communication has always been at the heart of every civilization.”
Historically, the US Postal Service has helped us communicate across the miles, and the same goes for today. Honest History Issue Twelve: Special Delivery aims (and delivers!) to explain the extraordinary impact the Postal Service has on our daily lives. From the history of airmail (which we have to thank for making airplanes a normal part of the modern world) to a historical stamp misprint mystery, detailing the life of a letter, the evolution of the mail car and the Postal Service uniform, to the fun facts scattered throughout Issue Twelve’s pages (such as, did you know Benjamin Franklin was the US’s first postmaster general in 1775?), there’s plenty of neat postal history to learn. Letter writing is such a unique way to connect with the world around us in a more meaningful way, so consider it a piece of history you are creating as you send your stories out into the world.
Here are a few pen pal ideas to get you writing, stamping, and sending:
(And remember, engaging as a pen pal is fun for kids and adults alike. Because truly, who doesn’t love the surprise of a hand-written letter addressed specifically to you?)
— Consider the recipient. Friend or relative? Perhaps it’s someone you’ve been out of touch with, or someone you truly have been thinking about lately and haven’t made the first effort to reach out. Now is the time! Or even if it’s someone you saw yesterday, the point is, you’ll make someone’s day with a surprise in the mailbox. So gather names and addresses and get ready to write.
— Consider the intent. Maybe there’s someone in your life that deserves a “thank you.” Or maybe just a “hi, how are you?”. Or maybe you heard a fun fact you wanted to pass along, or even read a newspaper article or bit of info on the Internet, and want to say, “this made me think of you”. Your letter can be specific or general, but it may be easier to have an idea of the content before you start.
— Consider the message. Now, what do you want to say? How do you want to frame your thoughts? Long, short, medium? Maybe add a doodle or drawing if you are stuck. Tell your recipient about your day or week; how you are feeling right now; ask questions (all the better for your recipient to write back!); tell your favorite joke!
— Write away! If you’re stuck, just write as you would chat (meaning, don’t overthink it). After all, this is supposed to be all fun! (Hint: Flip to page 55 in Issue Twelve for postcard supplies and prompts to get you going!)
— And a few tips for parents encouraging their kids to sit down and start: Perhaps set up a behind-the-scenes (or even upfront!) discussion with a friend’s parent or relative that you’d like to foster this pen pal communication with. Though it eliminates the mailbox surprise, it may help the back-and-forth to happen quicker with an initial head’s up.
Always encourage an added PostScript! Our favorite: P.S. — Please write back!
P.S. — Did you know National Postal Appreciation Day is July 1? And wouldn’t it be fun to make your postal worker’s day by thanking him or her in a special way? You could leave a mini care package out with a small snack and/or drink; make a homemade thank you card; offer a gift card to an easy location (think Home Depot, Starbucks, Target). Whatever it is, it will be most appreciated, we’re sure!