Squib has many favorite things to do, but one of his most favorite things to do is to make the trek to the mail box with Buddy. He likes to do this because he gets mail. He doesn't really get any mail addressed to him, but we give him all the junk mail. Now that he is more proficient at opening envelopes, he has started examining the contents and the subject of return envelopes came up and the conversation went something like this:
SQ: Momma? What's this?
Me: That is a return envelope.
SQ: What is it for?
Me: Well, if you decide to apply for that company's credit card you put your application in that envelope and it is already addressed and the postage is already paid. All you have to do is put it in the mail box.
SQ: All my mail has these envelopes.
Me: Yes, most of the mail we give you asks for a membership in a club or an application for a card or a donation to a charity. We don't choose to do that, so we give the mail to you so that you can have fun opening it.
SQ: But they never get any mail back from us. Won't they be sad?
Me: Honey, to tell you the truth, I'm pretty sure they never notice.
(mystified silence from the wee one)
SQ: They send us a letter and ask for a letter back, but they don't even notice if we send it back or not?
Me: That's probably right.
SQ: Is it someone's job to open the mail?
Me: Yes, I'm sure each of those companies has someone whose job it is to open the mail.
SQ: And they won't miss our letter?
Me: I don't think so, no.
SQ: That's sad.
SQ: What if they got a happy letter from us?
Me: What do you mean? Mommy really doesn't want to sign up for every card, club, and charity that sends her an application.
SQ: (after some eye-rolling) What do you think would happen if I sent them a happy letter? (He nods like "You know a happy letter.")
(silence while I imagine this--I'm starting to feel a little unobservant and a lot callous)
SQ: It would go to the right person, right? It has the address and the postage, right?
Me: Yeah, it would go to the person who opens the mail.
SQ: So? Can I send happy letters?
Now, think with me for a second. Go back to that altruistic happy-and-light part of you that just wants to give peace a chance and have-a-Coke-and-a-smile or whatever and really think about this. You're a no-doubt down-trodden minimum wager sitting in a cube opening return mail and probably filing it. You probably get mostly replies that you expect. I bet you even get a few hateful ones from people who want you to stop flooding their mailbox with dead tree parts or something along those lines. But really, if you are that letter-opener and you open the next envelope and you see a hand-drawn picture of a rainbow with a scrawled note at the bottom saying "Love, Squib." Wouldn't your world get just a little bit better? Even if it was for just a second? You might even be tempted to show someone else and pass it on or put it on the wall of your cubicle.
We write letters to the editor, have letters sent from our lawyers, write notes to the teacher, and all sorts of other correspondence, but quite frankly I rarely set pen to paper unless something has gone awry. I just don't sit down and think "can I send happy letters?" More's the pity.
The postage is already paid. The envelope is already addressed. What's the harm?
Who am I to say no? Thus beginneth the "Happy Letter Project."