Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved when the post came in. Back home, I used to run to the gate when the postman or postwoman came past with her red bag. I was a lucky kid because my Dad, who lived about 12 hours away, would pretty regularly send my brother and I things in the post. Post cards, letters, and gifts at Christmas or birthdays, books with notes written inside the front cover.
My Dad and I have a pretty complicated relationship, but I remember one day as a teenager complaining about something he had or hadn’t done, and a friend pointing out that I have more in letters and cards from him than most people have from their fathers.
I’ve kept everything he ever sent me. I’ve kept everything anyone has ever sent me. When I grew a little bit older, I used to write letters. I moved around a bit in life, and have always enjoyed pulling out my stationary box, with it’s coloured envelopes and illustrated pages (though my signature is a bright red envelope) and penning a letter to a dear friend. I have a large box that I keep all my old letters in, and I love to pull them out and remember old times, or people who can’t be near.
There’s something about getting something in the post that makes you feel really good. I think for me, it’s partly that memory of being the loved child of someone who suddenly didn’t feel so far away, but it’s also that someone was thinking about you and took the time to find a pen and get a piece of paper out. Writing a letter takes more effort, and is more personal, than an email. And in an age when most of our post is just bills or sales letters, it means even more. Curling up with a pen and paper to reply is also delicious.
And for me, being all the way out here in London (I’m from Australia) and with friends who live in Sydney, Amsterdam, LA and Manchester, sometimes those letters and little gifts in my letter box are the thing that stave off homesickness and remind me how connected I am and how I happen to have the best friends a girl could ask for.
It was on my mind this week, because I’ve been organising a couple of parcels out to friends who are far away but are going through break ups and grieving, or who just deserve a care package. Sometimes I hate that I can’t be there for everything. Being far away I miss out on a lot. But I really do love finding just the right thing and tucking in a red envelope with a handwritten message, right from the heart.