Snail Mail & Grandmas

A few years ago, I wrote about snail mail and how much I love it. But I want to revisit it now, thanks to a sweet reminder I received yesterday. 

I went out to the mailbox as I do most days, and picked up the stack. Per usual, a few credit card offers, a local newspaper, and some junk ads. But then in the pile I saw my name handwritten on a blue envelope and felt that familiar flutter of excitement. 

This week was a particularly good mail week because Monday was my birthday, but a few days had passed so it was a nice surprise! Turns out, it was a birthday card from my grandma. But not just any card. 

When I opened it up, I found, folded up, four single-spaced typed pages. A letter she’d written. In it, she talked about how much she’s always loved receiving mail (I sent her a card last week that I picked up on a work trip to Boise, where she lived with my grandpa, my dad and his siblings in the 60s). She said her love for mail started when she met my grandpa (at fourteen!), and how, when he was at war, that was their only means of communication. Then when she moved far away from family, snail mail was how they kept in touch. The letter was full of fun memories she shared about her younger years and raising a family – something I have to look forward to soon. I smiled the whole way through and even laughed out loud at a couple of her stories (one about a grumpy old neighbor who used to spray her kids with a hose if they rode bikes in front of his house…I couldn’t help but picture Walter Matthau).

In their early years – before my dad was born.

She apologized at the end for rambling and thought I might be bored. 

I could never be bored with these stories. There’s something both so surreal and also comforting about hearing stories from our grandparents. Sharing the seemingly mundane tales of their average lives, doing their best to get by and figure things out as they went, just like we’re doing today, but in such a completely different time and in a world almost unrecognizable to me. 

It’s hard for me to imagine living in a time of war. A time without computers. Without cell phones. When people didn’t keep up through Facebook and Instagram, but through handwritten letters. When kids played outside endlessly with all the neighbor kids. It makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew, and I’m glad I can hear my grandma’s stories about that time. 

When I was reading pieces of the letter to my husband, he said, “You’re so much like her.” 

My grandma has a couple of published books. She loves her family unconditionally. She loves Jesus. She was lovingly married to my grandpa for more than 60 years and took care of him while he lived with Alzheimer’s (she even wrote a guest post here once with some lovely marriage advice). She lives alone now, but every time we talk, she has nothing but positive things to say about life and love. She’s an encourager. She’s honest. She’s thoughtful. And she loves snail mail. 

Being “so much like her” is just about the best compliment I could get. 

It’s her birthday this weekend, and I hope she knows just how loved she truly is. Even though we’re far away and don’t talk enough, our snail mail exchanges always bring me joy. Happy birthday to one amazing woman who I truly admire. Love you, Grandma!

P.S. If it’s been a while since you’ve dropped a hand-written note in the mail just because, here are a couple of fun websites where you can order funny, thoughtful, sweet and inspirational note cards for just that purpose. Let’s reinvigorate the lost art of sending snail mail. 

For some funny, clever, real-life, but sometimes inappropriate cards: Emily McDowell’s designs are the best!

If you love sending cards as much as I do, try this adorable greeting card subscription from Minted

P.P.S. Feel like you need a reason to send a card? Here are some:

  • Birthdays
  • Job promotions
  • New house
  • Galentine’s Day (February 13!)
  • New baby
  • Holidays
  • Thank You
  • Successfully making it through another week
  • Dealing with something hard
  • Celebrating something exciting
  • Not saying something in a meeting that could get them fired

(It’s pretty easy to find a reason if you really need one.) 

P.P.P.S. Just let me know if you need my address. 😉 

Love this photo of my grandparents at my wedding. Happy birthday, Grandma!

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