I have been a lifelong fan of “the mail.” I send and receive heaps of mail, and handwritten letters were my primary way of staying close to friends and relatives who are many hours away by plane. I’ve also have/had fantastic pen friends, with whom I’ve had friendships spanning more than 30 years.
I love sending heartfelt messages, and I love receiving them; the same with friendly notes.
Now that my grandparents (who were VERY dedicated correspondents) are gone, I’ve looked to other friends for the satisfaction of good mail. I have a couple fantastic, active pen pals. I also have some well-intentioned friends who thought they would make good pen friends. Despite their excellent intentions, and the way they wax poetic about the idea of written correspondence, they do not DO it. I’ve spent years encouraging them, but the effort has been one- sided: I write to them regularly, they thank me via text or phone for all the notes, but they don’t write back: it isn’t really important to them.
The solution to this is to only write letters to people who also write letters. Shocking, I know! 😀
My main source of postal joy and positivity in the past few years is Postcrossing. This project run by two fun people in Portugal, is a brilliant database/club. You sign up, get five addresses, and send them postcards. (Postcards are MUCH easier for people to finish than letters!) Once your postcards reach their destinations, the recipients register their arrival; your address is then given to a participant so they can send you a card; plus, you can request another address to send to. This is FAIR: you only get a card when you have successfully sent a card. (Intentions are irrelevant!) Gradually, as more of your cards reach recipients, you are allowed to send more. You control the pace, as you get to choose when to request another address.
Postcards connecting the world – Postcrossing
A postcard exchange project that invites everyone to send and receive postcards from random places in the world. For free!
I joined in early 2017, and have sent and received more than 700 postcards. I now have quite a lovely collection of them, and go out of my way to keep a good supply on a wide range of subjects for sending. It doesn’t take long, and it is FUN! I highly recommend it for mail lovers who want to both send AND receive mail; people who enjoy surprises; people who want to have an excuse to buy more postcards; and people who like to encourage random strangers far away.
P.S. Having a new card collection helped me let go of my last, tiny crumbs of resentment about a friend who unwittingly destroyed my postcard collection from friends in college. It was taped to the wall, and I asked for help to gather them while moving out. Rather than removing the tape (which he had watched me do), he stuck them all together, so each was taped with strong adhesive to the face of the next one. It was unsalvageable (even with steam, even with time), and the images AND notes from friends and loved ones had to get tossed out. So: fresh start!
P.P.S. Those friends I got as pen pals in 1984 from the International Pen Pal organization were GREAT – I met three of them, and am still dear friends with one of them (and saw her again last fall). I believe this link leads to their successor organization:
International Pen Friends (IPF) – Snailmail Penfriends – Penfriends From All Over The World – Penfriend Club
Have you ever considered that the greatest friend you may ever have could be someone you have never met, living in a country you have never visited? International Pen Friends has over 300.000 members in 192 countries and we can provide you with new friends in your own age group from most countries around the world.
P.P.P.S. No, Letter Writers Alliance has ended as a project. I have one great pen pal from them (whom I’ve met!), and would recommend them if they were still active!