A few years ago I advocated writing personal letters (see Letters Keep Cursive Writing Alive). I still practice this, with the majority of the effort focused on Aly. I try to write her a letter at least once a week. As described in the essay linked above, it connects me to her while she’s away at college.
Part of the pleasure of writing each week comes from choosing a stamp to deliver the letter.
I’m not a stamp collector, but I do like stamps. I like to seek out and purchase stamps that express my world view, whether that be political or ideological statements, or those that simply reflect my personal outlook, tastes, and style. My journals contain stamps I’ve admired over the years. Many of these are Alaska themed, or seasonal. Sometimes, they’re just too interesting or pretty to let pass out of use.
Now that the U.S. Post Office has started designating “forever” stamps, I take advantage of the excuse that stamps are a good investment. Perhaps I should say “micro investment,” as the savings of a few pennies from year to year won’t ever make us rich, or preserve us from poverty. Even so, it allows me to accumulate stamps I really like to use as often as possible.
For me, a stamp provides a small postscript to a letter, a little visual message to the recipient. I’ve practiced this for a long time—back in the days when we mailed bill payments, I always made sure my significant stamps did not get missused. For instance, no bill collector ever received a payment from me with a “Love” stamp on the envelope!
Since Aly knows me better than just about anyone on the planet, most of my effort to communicate through stamps gets directed at her. Almost all of the stamps I use on her letters have some sort of message from me, if only to make her smile or nod in recognition. One year, a secular seasonal stamp echoed the name of her college, so I bought a bunch of those and used them throughout the year.
Just recently, I discovered a newer design that she’ll appreciate. I won’t name it, as this essay will post before she receives a letter with the stamp on it, and I wouldn’t ruin the surprise.
FInding pleasure in such an insignificant task as choosing the right stamp for a particular letter may seem foolish to some. I feel that if one can take pleasure in such a small thing, one will never require great expenditure of money, time, or other resources to find satisfaction in life.