Since the advent of the computer and electronic messages, regular old snail mail has been more or less reduced to an array of bills, advertisements, and a lot of crap that goes directly into the trash can in the kitchen without even a second glance. Real honest-to-goodness letters are very few and far between and even I am guilty of not writing to people as often as I should anymore.
Growing up on military bases far away from Connecticut, I used to get a lot of letters from my grandmother and grandfather and even had friends from other bases that we'd moved from that kept in touch via letter. When my Dad was stationed in Vietnam and then Iceland, I wrote to him on a regular basis, too. Of course there was no such thing as the Internet back when my Dad was being bombed nightly at DaNang so we didn't have the luxury of getting a quick email telling us that he was still alive when we'd hear of a particularly horrific bombing on the news. We had to wait until another letter written in his shakey hand while waiting out the attack in a bomb shelter arrived. Needless to say, my Mom relied greatly upon the United States Postal Service in 1966 - 1967.
When I found myself in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, "Mail Call" became one of the highlights of my day and was my one connection with the outside world. My best high school buddy Carol wrote lengthy missives every day and she would even write a note on the back of the envelope to the rest of my Flight as I had told her that my TI (training instructor) would make us stand at attention in the front of the room while she read aloud whatever was on the back of the envelope. It got to the point where the rest of my Flight looked forward to my letters from Carol as much as I did! Letters were a true lifeline back then and also while I went through my eight months of electronics training in Mississippi following Basic Training.
These days I write to Jamie and she occasionally gets to send a letter back as long as I've provided the envelope and postage and it meets the strict guidelines that her father has set for letter-writing (apparently any complaining about life in Kentucky is NOT allowed) and I write to my former grandmother-in-law from my first marriage in Stockton and she writes back in a script that almost requires a professional translator because her vision is failing but every letter sends love and blessings and lets me know that she's still alive and doing relatively well.
Other than that, getting the mail is no longer the daily event that it used to be. I have a pile of stuff on the kitchen counter that I need to go through and either file or chuck as that's where it seems to end up once it comes out of the mailbox and into the house. Still, to not ask what came in the mail is a hard habit to get into. Even Amanda will come home from school and ask if there was anything for her in the mail. I told her I'd be happy to give her one of my bills or the latest political advertisement but she doesn't seem much interested in those things. She's probably still waiting for a letter from her father who hasn't written her once since she moved back here over a year ago but thankfully she isn't holding her breath for it.
When I read my fortune from last night's cookie after dinner at the Eastern Sake Buffet I had to laugh a little as I thought about what sort of good news could possibly be brought by mail ... would Publishers Clearinghouse send me the winning ticket for their sweepstakes?; would I get a letter from some unknown attorney telling me that some relative I never knew I had designated me their sole heir and a check for BIG BUCKS was enclosed?; would there be a letter from some long-lost friend who had found my name in the phone book and just had to write?; would the IRS send me a check for overpaid taxes?; what sort of good news could it possibly be??
Ah well, at this point, the good news could be the ceasage of useless political ads as those seem to make up over 50% of my mail these days. That and catalogs with things that I can't afford to buy even if I wanted to. SIgh ... where has all the good mail gone?