|The postcard my kids sent to our cat on our recent trip to Sweden.|
If your old, like me, you know that this wasn't always the case. In the early 1990s, when I first moved to Canada from Sweden, I wrote a lot of letters to friends and family. That, or expensive international calls, were the only ways to communicate with people I knew "back home". These days, I send Christmas cards, maybe a Christmas letter, and an occasional birthday card. Don't get me wrong: it's a good change in many ways. I definitely feel less isolated and more in touch thanks to the Internet than I did back when I was only using snail-mail.
However, I am still very much in favor of sending old-school postcards when traveling with my kids.
So, when we go away for a trip I bring a small address book (yes, an honest to goodness book) with me that contains the street addresses of my kids' friends written in pen or pencil.
(This little book is also a hard-copy of the phone numbers of our friends and family members, which is quite handy to have, just in case you end up with no internet access, or without a cell-phone.)
Snail-mail might be losing ground to email, but even with all the email and tweets and status updates in the world (and I do love them all), there's still something special about actually going to the mail box and finding something in it that a) is addressed to you (and isn't a bill), and b) was written for you and sent by someone you know.
There's something so real and tangible about a postcard, and it makes a great project for kids to help with as well.
- First of all you have to pick out a postcard you like. In Sweden, I found a lot of selection: moose, moose poop, summer flowers, red-painted cottages... Let your kids help you pick, but be ready for it to take some time!
- Then you have to write something on the card. If your kids can write, then this is a great thing for them to do themselves. Otherwise, your children will have to think about what it is about their trip that they would like to share with friends and family, and let you write it down. They can also sign their names on the card. Leave a lot of extra space if your child is new to printing: crayons and fat markers can be easier for little kids to use than pencils.
- You also have to write the address on the card. Get your kids to help you look it up in the address book. If you can, look up where you are and where the cards are going to on a map or globe to help your kids visualize it.
- After that you have to get a stamp and stick it on the card: for little kids, this can be quite exciting!
- Finally, you have to find a mail-box and put the postcard in it. Watch out for sibling fights over who gets to put cards into the box!
My daughter was quite worried that the cards would not end up in the right place. When we got home, she was overjoyed to see that the postcards we'd picked out for her dad and for our cat (yes, cats need postcards too), had arrived in good order.
Finally, a postcard is a nice gift for the person you send it to. Sure, it's a cheap gift (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but it does show the other person that you were thinking about them, and made an effort to find them something personal while you were away.