I don’t know how many of you have been home for the holidays with families that are very big supporters of the Christmas season, but my mother has always been a big enthusiast for everything Christmas. It’s gotten to the point where she begins watching movies like Frosty the Snowman and Christmas with the Kranks as early as November 1st.
We happened to be watching one particular scene from the movie Santa Baby, where Santa Claus’ daughter was telling her friend the mailman that “by this time next year, we’ll be 100% digital” regarding children’s letters to Santa. And the mailman’s answer is something that I remember clearly: “But aren’t some things sacred?”
Since joining the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club in March, where I was given a great geeky pen pal that I still write to on a regular basis, I’ve been re-introduced to the art of letter writing. And I’ve found that it’s not only letters and postcards that make the trip to the post office to buy stamps completely worth it.
Geeks with craftier tendencies can exchange hand-made gifts, foodies have a fun and creative way to exchange recipes, and it’s a great way to shower your favorites geeks across the globe with presents, no matter the time of year. Whether you’re sending a package or the great gift of words, there are plenty of ways that you can re-realize the fun that snail mail can hold, and there’s always something for every geek out there.
Pen Pals/Mail Exchanges
Like I mentioned before, there are a variety of ways in which you can find somebody that you can exchange handwritten sentiments with. Sites like the IGGPPC will pair you up with a compatible (and geeky) pen pal, and you can get as many pen pals as you like by signing up for a new round of pairing every month. There are also many other online groups, such as Pen Pal World that offer the same services, most of them free of charge. Not only that, but you can always send more than paper as well. There are various exchanges happening in the IGGPPC forums, but there are a multitude of other places to participate in things such as book swaps and craft exchanges. You can even send items back and forth to your very own pen pal.
I’ve recently fallen in love with a site called Postcrossing, where you can send and receive post cards from all over the world. It’s a completely safe and simple site to navigate, and once your first post card has been received you’ll be able to receive cards from anyone in the world at any time. Post cards are the perfect size to send a little piece of yourself to someone that they will be able to hold onto and cherish forever. I’ve already collected two post cards, one from Japan and one from the Czech Republic.
And a great thing about having letter writing as a hobby is all the stationary you can buy! Sites like Etsy and RedBubble have a multitude of options for pretty or geeky cards and paper. One site I’m currently addicted to would be CafePress. They make everything to order and their merchandise will put a smile on your face no matter what you’re into. For Christmas my mother happened to get me a shirt and a few sets of post cards from one of my favorite movies The Princess Bride.
Of course there are the obvious issues with the mail system, costs and the environment, which has deterred a lot of people from letter writing and led them toward electronic methods of communication. Consider each letter and package you send as a donation toward the postal enterprise; you’ll be helping thousands of people keep their jobs and protecting something that will always remain sacred. And for environmentalists everywhere, there are measures that can easily be taken. In fact, Postcrossing has a page with a few ideas about creating a greener hobby.
I have nothing against email, and it’s certainly a great way to keep in touch with people (with less risk of hand cramp). You may enjoy typing out the occasional email to your friends now and again, but see what it feels like to dip back to the classic notion of communicating with a pen and paper. There’s always that possibility that taking the time to handwrite something, going to the post office to send something, will mean that much more.