Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Modern Day Miracle!

Today’s technology is nothing less than a modern day miracle. Cellphones, email, webcams, blogs, & Facebook help us stay better connected these days with those we love who may live miles away or even across the globe.

As a grandmother with some out-of-state grandchildren, I wanted to find fun ways to “stay connected” with my little ones who are just a little too young to be “plugged in” right now. So I try to send fun things to them in the mail for any & all holidays. Yes, I’m talking about “snail mail” – remember the good old fashioned United States Postal Service?

It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, children LOVE to get mail - especially when they get old enough to start writing & reading. We typically send some kind of treat & a holiday book, I’m a fan of reading to children & new books spark an interest in reading. Before our older grandchildren could read on their own, G’pa & I would read the book on a cassette tape & ring a bell when it was time for them to turn the page. This helped them become familiar with the sound of our voices. Our oldest grandson would get so excited - when he got a new book he would open it up, recognize what it was, then insist that his mom immediately plug it into the tape player so he could read along to his new story. Not too many cassette players out there anymore.

One of my new favorite ways to stay connected is my “Grandma’s Story Swap.” My sister-in-law gave me this fabulous idea. It is just a simple spiral notebook that she shares with her granddaughter across the country. So I started this precious little project myself. I draw a picture & write a sentence or two about it, then send it to a grandchild who would then draw a picture & tell me about it. At first, their mom’s would write it for them, but as their writing skills developed they took over the writing on their own. The stories could be about things they like to do or they could make up a little story to tell. Here’s some early samples to give you the idea.

Well, one sad day I received this in the mail…

Why was this in plastic?

I found this letter inside the plastic…

Needless to say, I-Was-Sick-To-My-Stomach! The envelope was empty! The notebook did NOT make it safely back to me in the mail. As I considered the loss of such a precious project my heart sank…but then a thought occurred to me. They sent a Zip Code, 85626 – I know where to start looking. Perhaps there is a “lost mail” department in Arizona? If there was such a thing, this bright purple notebook would be easy enough to describe or perhaps even stand out from all the other lost mail! A calm began to sweep over me. It was worth a try…

Long story, short – the Consumer Affairs department connected me with a Costumer Service representative of the appropriate post office. She was very helpful & genuinely concerned for my lost treasure. She explained the process to me but tried not to get my hopes up. Evidently my notebook was not the first casualty as a result of those mail sorting machines. The unidentified mail is sent to a certain post office where they try to determine where to send or return these unfortunate pieces of mail by the descriptions people give them when they call looking for something. But they only do this once a month so she took my name, phone number & address & promised to call me whether they found it or not.

Well, several weeks later I got a call from that same sweet representative – miraculously, they found it! I was so happy! She seemed sincerely delighted to be able to return it to me & I was thrilled to have my treasure back. I have since stamped my name & address on the inside cover & back of every notebook. I even reinforce the envelopes with clear packing tape in an effort to avoid this mishap in the future! I am relieved to report that my desert darling in AZ & I have resumed our story swappin’. I will continue to connect with my grandchildren through snail mail…at least until they outgrow the idea of writing to their grandmother. Who knows, maybe they will “friend” me on Facebook someday? Hey, it could happen.

Miracles do happen! My faith in humanity has been strengthened…well, at least my faith in the United States Postal Service has increased knowing that there are nice people out there who truly care & take their jobs seriously. Thanks to my new BFF at the Arizona Customer Service department of the USPS & all you other nice people out there – the world is a nicer place with people like you.