Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 16,263: Of Pen Pals and PO Boxes

When I was in fourth grade, I yearned for two things.

The first was to learn the alphabet in sign language. After countless hours at a sticky table in my elementary school library with a picture book and stubborn determination, this goal was achieved. That's when I learned that I can learn anything, if and when willing to set my mind and the requisite practice time to it. Almost 35 years later, I can still fumble my way through most letters and pretty well fake the rest, which used to wow my daughter, but now not so much.

The second was to have a pen pal of my very own. Thank goodness for distant cousins in seemingly distant places like, um, Murphysboro, Illinois. The world was much bigger back then. Two states away felt like another world. I was delighted to discover that this distant cousin had friends whose arms were twisted who wanted pen pals too, so I crafted a little pen pal club and matched them up with my friends. Awaiting the mailman became glorious torture.

That little girl is still within me and her heart is my heart and that heart often aches for simpler times. E-mail is fine. Effective, yes. What's missing, though, is the personal touch. As a recovering calligrapher, I am a sucker for pen to paper, both given and received. I believe that a deeper connection is forged through the extra effort. Stickers help. And let's not forget that getting a piece of REAL mail amongst the flyers, bills, and credit card offers may be even more of a thrill now than when we were kids.

When I setup Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop as an LLC, I setup a post office box along with it. For as many years as I have had that box, it has been a receptacle for little more than dust. It is due for its annual renewal at the end of this month and, yet again, ditching it seems like the practical choice.

Then again, the older I get, the less inclined I am to opt for practical. So, with that said, I am letting fourth grade me make the decision this year. She wants me to keep it. So let's put it to good use. If you, like me, miss sending and receiving personal correspondence, I invite you to send me a handwritten letter or postcard to the address below and I promise to respond in kind:

Julie Keefe
Jakk's Magic Beans Workshop
P.O. Box 54195
Cincinnati, OH 45254

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