Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pen and Paper ... PenPals of Yore!

Once upon a time, in a time far away ... no, no, no ... not that far of course, but at least 10 or more years ago. Which is long enough in today's technology. Some younger folks will think that's ancient times, but it's still pretty fresh in my mind.

A note card with stamped envelope, pen and a pair of glasses.
I was thinking this morning how I miss communicating with "real" written letters. Oh ... very true that instant communication through email or messengers is, well, "instant", and convenient in most cases, but it really isn't the same. Most likely a lot of the folks under 30 won't understand this yearning for the "letters on paper".

I used to have a dozen penpals all over the world. I guess that started in my late 20s. Looking for others to learn about their countries and lifestyles first hand from someone who lived there. Today of course, this is possible through many websites and blogs, but there is something unique about getting a real letter in the mail. It was almost like having a friend arrive at your door for a good chin-wag and a coffee.

A country mail box painted white on a pole with a blue lantern.
Image from
There was this feeling of anticipation when you went to the mailbox every day ... whose letter would arrive today? Which friend would I be visiting with as I put my feet up on the hassock and sipped my fresh cup of coffee? How many letters would I be writing in return that day? Who finally got their redecorating done, or changed their hairstyle, or bought a house? Which letter would come stuffed with photos so I could share their excitement?  Communication was often more real - I suppose because we felt that nobody else would be reading these letters except the recipient. We shared our feelings freely, our troubles with kids and husbands, our frustrations over jobs or money, and shared many other things I wouldn't share publicly on a blog or social media site. We "grew up" together I guess, even though we'd never met in person (eventually I did meet several of them!)

What got me started off on these thoughts was one of my nieces. From the time both of my nieces were born we've lived several hours apart (by car), but it's not that hard to hop in the car and visit, particularly when my parents were alive. We'd meet there pretty often since it's was halfway between each of our homes. My sister's family and mine found "mom and dad's" an easy option to see each other more often. Both of the girls have grown up to be beautiful girls and amazing people.

The oldest has just arrived in New Zealand on a 2-year working visa. I know that this is something she wanted - oh, initially it wasn't a country, but a place. She went to university to become a vet, and ended up completing the vet tech course. Locally, there aren't that many places to work in the field with larger animals (horses, cows, sheep), but that's really where her heart is. Since graduating from uni she's worked in Veterinary Clinics close to home, and although she loves all animals (grew up with dogs, cats, and a horse), she's always had a leaning towards farming stock.

A bunch of sheep in a green field.

On a trip to New Zealand, she found what she loved. The country life, lots of ranches and lots of animals. She's been working the last few years to qualify for a working visa in New Zealand, and finally she did it. She's there! She looks happy and excited to be off on another new adventure (she's quite a travel hound), albeit a much longer one that any other trip.

Sweet little girl with basket of flowers in a metal frame.
But oddly, even though we've not been close to each other in our physical locations, we've been close enough that I could see her a few times a year. Now ... well, now it's surprising how much I feel the lack of her physical presence. Oh, I know she'll be fine, and we'll eventually see her again (even if it's just for a visit), and ... I'm happy for her, but 2 years is a long time not to be able to see someone (in person, which is totally different than any video chat).

Where she goes from here - whether she ever comes "home" to stay, or falls in love with NZ and is able to immigrate permanently is anyone's guess. What I hope is that she'll do whatever it is she loves to do. Our kids have to be free to live their lives and make their choices, and we (as family) have to let them. As for me, I've decided that I'll communicate with her by "snail mail" several times a year. The first letter will be a surprise to her, after that, well perhaps she'll look forward to getting letters on paper! After all ... there's nothing like getting mail from home in your post!

Several envelopes of opened mail.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Gracey! I truly love those times, before instamessage with the help of the Internet replaced. I was a teener and I also have pen pals hahha in the Philippines and others are American. I enjoyed writing letters with my best stationerries, and every day I received letters too. It was fun and exciting. There was that boy who love to write me and one time he surprised me by visiting me with a pack of fruits for me hahaha! It was our first meeting, and I was really really shy! He is married too now and one of his cousins is also here in the Netherlands, also married to a Dutchman. Hahah what a small world!