The Enterprise - - Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

t’s the most won­der­ful time of the year — for our mail­box.

For a few marvelous weeks in De­cem­ber, our in­com­ing mail in­cludes hand­writ­ten notes, fam­ily let­ters, cards with glit­tery win­ter scenes and care­fully-crafted pho­tos in ever­green groves (say that 10 times fast).

Be­ing no stranger to the de­sire for the “per­fect” fam­ily Christ­mas card, I get it. I just gave up this year. And un­sur­pris­ingly, per­haps, it was bet­ter.

I’ve al­ways loved “real” mail: the sta­tionery, col­or­ful en­velopes, seals and unique cards. I re­mem­ber re­ceiv­ing a gift of my own ad­dress la­bels when I was a kid — col­or­ful pas­tel ones with my name in tiny print. I ex­pected them to el­e­vate me to a new level of cool, given I could send let­ters like a grown-up, but still kinda wait­ing for that to hap­pen.

I looked for any and every ex­cuse to send some­thing through the mail. Our fourth grade class adopted pen pals from Maine, and I would craft mis­sives to a ran­dom kid near Port­land just for the thrill of stick­ing on a stamp with a bird.

Maybe I’m ac­tu­ally ob­sessed with stick­ers? . . . That’s an­other col­umn.

Grow­ing up, the “out­go­ing mail” spot was a cor­ner of the fire­place in the front liv­ing room. My mom would place bills or thank-you cards there and, be­fore long, they would dis­ap­pear. It was much later that I re­al­ized the “magic” was ac­tu­ally my fa­ther, who walked ev­ery­thing down be­fore the daily mail ar­rived.

My sis­ter and I loved ac­com­pa­ny­ing him to check our mail­box (and his post of­fice box), even though there was rarely any­thing in the stack for us. I do re­mem­ber a few sub­scrip­tions to “High­lights” and “Ranger Rick,” plus the time I en­tered a kids’ club for SweeTarts, which sent me back an ac­tual mem­ber­ship card. (The club dis­banded a short time later. My 10-year-old self was dev­as­tated.)

As the ’90s gave way to the dig­i­tal ex­plo­sion, of course, “snail mail” be­gan to fall out of fa­vor. But I still love to send and re­ceive ac­tual cards. My grand­mother and I ex­change notes (though I need to be bet­ter about this — sorry, Gram!), and my mom re­cently sent me a mag­a­zine clip­ping with her per­son­al­ized sta­tionery be­cause she knew it would make me smile.

Be­cause the hol­i­days are still a pub­licly ac­cepted time to send and re­ceive mail, it’s ba­si­cally the Su­per Bowl for sta­tionery en­thu­si­asts. I was so ex­cited to send “Merry and Mar­ried” cards in 2013, and to add “Baby John­son — ar­riv­ing in 2015!” to the fol­low­ing year’s de­sign.

I start plan­ning our card in Oc­to­ber. Most of my fa­vorite photo sites de­but their hol­i­day de­signs around then, so I start sav­ing my top picks for later. Get­ting the ac­tual John­son photo — with all eyes open, smiles on at least two faces, and no dou­ble chins for me — is its own project, but I was pretty pleased with an un­planned shot my mom snapped of us this fall.

I tend to get so bent out of shape when the kids don’t fol­low my plans that I’ve re­ally tried to stop mak­ing them. Every time I wedge them into adorable cloth­ing, it’s all they can do not to roll around in the dirt or drip choco­late down their fronts. Though my chil­dren are pressed to my body about 98 per­cent of the time, they sud­denly want noth­ing to do with me when we want them to sit for a pic­ture.

Prob­a­bly preach­ing to the choir here, but it helps to get it out.

Frus­tra­tions aside, we got a cute pic­ture of the four of us. I or­dered my cards and stamps and washi tape, and I’ve been prep­ping the stack in stages. I like to stuff the en­velopes and stamp one night, then seal and ad­dress them the next. This is best ac­com­plished with a Hall­mark Christ­mas movie play­ing softly in the back­ground, but I’ll set­tle for no one scream­ing.

I’ve re­ceived a few cards from far­away friends and a let­ter from a lo­cal one. As much as I love send­ing notes, com­ing home to a hand­writ­ten en­ve­lope is still my fa­vorite part. It’s a com­fort.

As Hadley and Ol­lie are get­ting older, they’ve be­come in­ter­ested in ac­com­pa­ny­ing Spencer and me to our mail­box across the street. Oliver hasn’t started ask­ing if any­thing in there is for him, but I have a hunch he and his sis­ter will have in­ter­est­ing mail soon.

Santa still prefers to com­mu­ni­cate via Po­lar Dis­patch. No wifi at the work­shop — and any­way, the man cer­tainly knows the value of tra­di­tion.

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