WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- The mailman comes to my door at 2:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday. He hops up on the side of my porch, tosses the mail in my little gold mail box and scurries down the front steps. I know this because I eagerly await mail time. When I am home, I meet our mailman at the door to get the delivery right in my hand. When I found out that the Postal Service is cutting Saturday delivery I was devastated. One of the things I love most is getting mail, but what I love more? Sending it. Dropping a stack of letters into the blue post office box and feeling the cold metal slam shut. It's like I am dropping my little masterpieces into a stack of mysteries headed who knows where.
Every day I write at least two letters, usually more.
The first goes to my grandmother. I have found it's the best way to connect with this incredible woman in my life. She has dementia and is hard of hearing. Phone calls are a struggle and now that I've moved away, visits are infrequent. But for a little while every day, when I am sitting with a card and my pen, I get to focus on her. And for a little while, every day, she reads my card for the first time. She keeps a large stack of them and reads them over and over - it's how we stay connected.
The second letter goes to someone I don't know. Usually a thank you, although occasionally -- rarely -- it's a complaint. I write to businesses whose products have served me well. I write to restaurants and companies whose employees have treated me exceptionally or have gone above and beyond -- a waitress who reread me the specials a half-dozen times, a young worker at an ice cream shop who didn't mind letting my father try all the flavors, the company that makes my awesome toothbrush, the gas station attendant who helped me work a confusing machine, the friendliest cashier at the grocery store down the road.
It gives me time to reflect on the kindness and goodness in my day, and it gives me the chance to give someone the recognition they deserve for trying to spread some good.
Sunday is my least favorite day. Although it's a day off from work and usually quite leisurely, nothing makes up for that moment in my day when I pick up the mail and sort through to see what gems have come to my house. Although I know no mail will come, I still peek into the mailbox "just in case," I tell my roommate. Now there will be two days that I won't get to eagerly pull letters from our little gold mailbox. And worse - two days that my grandmother won't hear from me. Two days we won't be connected.
I have a beautiful address book, and it's filling up quickly. Loved ones from my little hometown, college friends, mentors, family, community members -- I've got all their addresses (in pencil of course -- things change) etched into my book. Since I made this promise to myself to write letters every day about a year ago, my cursive has gotten quite good, although I needed to revisit the capital Qs and Zs.
After I've written my first two letters, I go through my book and alternate keeping in touch with other people I care about from all aspects of my life. One day I wrote to 19 of them. Some write back, others complain that they can't afford stamps --those are my college friends -- but I love writing to them all the same.
My mail hobby is expensive. I can't pass up a fitting pack of cards to send out - "What's shakin' bacon" from Target was my most recent purchase -- and I spend at least $60 a month on stamps. But it's worth it.
To some, letter-writing is dead. Not to me. I am sad to see even one day of mail delivery going away, and worried it might prevent others from discovering the beauty in writing a letter - and hearing that someone was overjoyed to have heard from you. A gift that's becoming harder and harder to give in an increasingly digital world.