When I had the privilege of delivering a keynote address to the National Association of Postmasters of the United States (NAPUS) in Anchorage, Alaska, I spoke on the joy that comes in the form of a card or letter.
Oh, I've had my share of aggravations with packages that are lost and once it took a first class letter six weeks to travel 40 miles but the smiles have been more plentiful than the troubles. It is a wonderful thing that every American is given the right to receive mail delivered right to our door.
"You," I told the audience of 1500 postmasters, "deliver magic on ordinary days. In the form of cards, well wishes, letters and presents. That little piece of magic we can hold in our hands."
To underscore my point, I spoke of Mama and how she once said to me, "It's so lonely to go to the mailbox and find only a circular there." Someone who knew Mama, had read a column I had written on Mama's nearly bare mailbox and began to send elaborate cards, letters and packages once or twice a weekly. It became a source of immense joy for Mama.
Also, I told of Mrs. Loretta Tucker of Cincinnati, Ohio., the widow of a police officer who died suddenly of a heart attack when he was only 45 years old, six years after they married. She is now 93, alone since Earl died, with no children but a loving niece and other family who see after her. Several years ago, her sister wrote to tell me that Miss Loretta is a big fan of mine, re-reading my books often.
"Would you mind sending her a note?" she asked. "It would mean so much."
Into a large box, I dropped a few gifts along with a note and mailed it off to Cincinnati. I fully expected it to be my last contact with the widow. However, she wrote back to say, "I prayed that God would send me a friend because all of my friends at church have died. And he sent me you!"
That begun what has become eight years of hand-written letters back and forth. She tells me that often she rushes to her mailbox to see there's something from me.
"I get so excited when I see your handwriting on an envelope," she wrote.
I concluded my speech in Anchorage by saying, "So, postmasters, on behalf of a very grateful nation, on behalf of Mama, on behalf of Loretta Tucker and all the others like her, thank you for the magic you deliver on ordinary days."
They responded with a thundering standing ovation but, much more importantly, someone put Miss Loretta's name and address in the convention's daily newsletter, urging folks to send her a card. The outpouring of love was so immense that Miss Loretta was stunned by all the correspondence. It poured in. Her mailbox would be stuffed to full capacity with cards and letters. She was beside herself with happiness.
"I'm all puffed up over all this attention," she wrote in her spidery handwriting. "I can't believe I'm famous. Me. Little Loretta Tucker is somebody."
It worked such magic in her life that a friend suggested that I ask those people on my weekly newsletter list to supply the names of friends and loved ones who were lonely and might like to receive a Christmas card. I did and readers responded incredibly, flooding older folks with notes of cheer and encouragement. It has been something of heart-warming magnitude to behold.
"The outpouring of kindness has restored my faith in people," wrote the daughter of one woman who received dozens of notes.
Often I say that there are many on the periphery of need. They have food and shelter but they need loving attention.
They need magic delivered to them on an ordinary day by someone like you.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of What Southern Women Know About Faith. Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.