Thank You Letter: Canada Post

Sharing an appreciation for snail mail

Journal File Photo

In high school, my father told me that everyone wins the lottery once in their lifetime. If that’s true, I’ll never score a million dollars on a scratch ticket because I hit the jackpot with my family. 

Unfortunately, my family is spread out across the globe, from Thunder Bay to Wichita to Edinburgh. For most of my life, maintaining any sense of connection required lengthy phone calls, haphazard e-mails, and the odd plane ride. This proved to be an unreliable system for a child that just wanted to hang out with her cousins, who all lived 16 hours away. 

But things changed in the sixth grade when I discovered the postal system and conned my cousin into writing me letters.

[T]hings changed in the sixth grade when I discovered the postal system and conned my cousin into writing me letters.

We quickly put pen to paper and became good, old-fashioned pen pals.

Our earliest letters are dated in 2012, when I lamented about the perils associated with elementary school and first crushes, and she responded with discussions of high school and trips abroad. Letters were padded with would-you-rather questions, playlists of our favourite songs, dollar store stickers, and images stolen from Tumblr.

Seven years later, I still anxiously check the mailbox every Monday to Friday.

The content of our letters has evolved with age, as we now debate the advantages of dating apps, describe our shared homesickness and loneliness, and try to pinpoint what exactly we hope to do with our post-university lives—a more pressing issue for her, a recent-graduate.

The most recent letter I received was hand delivered in Edinburgh over Reading Week, and probed the meaning of friendship and the shifting relationship we have with our hometowns as we grow up.

Christmas morning doesn’t touch the feeling of tearing open an envelope on my way up the stairs into my apartment, devouring the letter before I’ve unlocked my front door and choking up over words written three weeks earlier, in a café somewhere across the Atlantic.

I keep our letters in a shoebox in the corner of my bedroom. Every few weeks, I pull one out of the stack and read back through the trials and tribulations of my and my cousin’s teenage selves as we sorted through our dreams in secret letters. 

No matter what’s on my to-do list, there’s always half an hour to write a letter, put a stamp on it, and walk it to the mailbox. I’m endlessly grateful for the Canadian postal system, which continues to make my letter-writing aspirations a reality. 

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