It was a blue letter she wrote to me
It’s silver words she told
‘Wanna be on the road to paradise
I want a lover who don’t get old
By Randall Grantham
Ah, the Yuletide season is upon us — the most joyous time of the year for many. For the young children who anxiously await the arrival of Santa Claus. For retailers and online merchants. And for the United States Postal Service.
The Post Office has lost millions of dollars in revenue to shipping giants like UPS, and then millions more because the rest of the year people are using e-mail and the Internet more to communicate.
But at this time of year, people still like to send Christmas cards by mail. Real mail, with little personal notes written in it, sent in an actual envelope that has a stamp on it and is physically delivered to its recipient. Remember when we used to do that all the time?
Not only do I have some recollection of it, I also have a collection of the stuff from when it was the only game in town. It wasn’t sneered upon as “snail mail.” It was celebrated, cherished, ingrained into our culture. The day, and eventually the time of day, that the mail was delivered was looked forward to as a high point.
My grandfather collected not only stamps, but also mailings of every kind. He had First Day Covers, when people actually noted the day and place that a particular stamp would be issued. They would send empty envelopes, at first blank and, later, adorned with pictures and slogans, with payment for the yet-to-be-issued postage receipt (stamp), to that location just to have a first day of issue post-marked envelope. I’ve got tons of them. What a moneymaker that was.
He also had a large collection of postcards from around the nation and even the world. They weren’t to or from Grandpa, in most cases, but were acquired by him over years at shows and stamp meets. I was actually able to sell most of them to some antique store. I kept the ones that had pictures of local landmarks, past and present. Those did great before instant uploads and the Internet everywhere.
He even had about two shoeboxes full of postings from the Clark(e) family back and forth between Summit, in Marion County, Fort Brook, Fort Dade on Egmont Key and even from a ship anchored off the Cuban coast during the Spanish/American War.
I’ve tried, without success, to locate any of that family to see if they were interested in them, so maybe I’ll just read them and piece together a bit of their frontier life. It might make a good e-book or maybe even a movie.
One thing I didn’t realize that people did was to send “Grieving Cards.” These are notes that are sent out in specially decorated envelopes announcing the death of someone to others who otherwise wouldn’t know for some time.
The letters were in an envelope that was outlined in black or had somber black designs painted on it. These are called “mourning covers.” Those seemed to go out with the advent of the telephone.
The ones I’ve got are very sad and stoic. Sad, but very intimate and personal — just the way the Internet and e-mail and texts and IMs are not! And not profitable for the Post Office either.
So I’m glad to see this mailing season arrive. We send out cards every year. It ain’t easy, certainly not as easy as a mass e-mail blast, but it’s part of the tradition and adds a very personal feel to this time of year. It is worth the time and effort to sit down and address all the cards and write a note to each person and then to lovingly sign each card.
Fortunately we’ve got our mailing list on computer and can generate mailing labels for the entire batch. And this year, once again, we’ll have the print shop emboss each one with our personal greeting and signatures. Now all we have to do pay the postage and put the stamps on. Oh wait, there’s an app for that.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Randall C. Grantham is a lifelong resident of Lutz who practices law from his offices on Dale Mabry Highway. He can be reached at . Copyright 2010 RCG. To comment on this or anything else, e-mail the editor at and for past columns go to lakerlutznews.com.