Like everyone else on the planet, I use snail mail less and less. Email, like online banking and shopping, take care of most of what I once sent through the United States Postal Service.
Even so, there are a few vestigial matters that either require a hard copy or that I just prefer to handle old-school. These include:
• Certain bills: mostly local vendors, and charitable contributions where I wish to spare the non-profit the overhead charged by credit cards
• Manuscripts: Not everyone wants to read everything on a screen.
• Cards: Birthdays, thank yous, get wells, condolences (too many of those)
The manuscripts require a visit to ye olde post office to figure out what I owe, but for the rest I just open the right hand drawer of my desk and choose from among a small but ever-changing selection of plain old faithfuls and kicky special issues.
It’s quite possible that the recipients of my mail don’t care or notice, but I enjoy the selection process. There is a kind of etiquette in deciding what to affix to whom. For example, it would be rude to put Bart Simpson’s face on a note of sympathy or a “thinking of you” card for someone who is grievously ill. The “Love” stamps (I’ve got Queens and Kings) work for those, as do anything floral or feathered.
But it’s fun to paste Bart or Homer on a card for someone who is recovering from knee surgery. I also like to put those guys on parking tickets, though I doubt the poor souls opening the envelopes appreciate my postal raspberries.
Marge, Lisa, and Maggie are my birthday go-tos: I love those girls. My dwindling supply of Katherine Hepburns go to those I think will appreciate the cheekbones, the black-and-white glamour, and our shared good taste.
Anything but a “Forever” Liberty Bell stamp works fine on a thank you note — the most unexpected of all correspondance.
I do have a pile of those gloomy Liberty Bells, which are boring to the point of insult. Still, they’re good enough for the faceless machinery of the IRS, behemoth financial institutions, and the like.
But whatever I finally peel and stick (does anyone miss stamp-licking?), I always enjoy the ritual of the mail box. Buddy the Schnauzer and I trot to the blue box around the corner, where I still get that little-kid thrill of letting my letters go, followed by the satisfying resonant kettle drum sound as the slot drops shut: mission accomplished.