In which I act like an adult and buy lots of greeting cards

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I spent almost an hour in Hallmark last night.

This isn’t unusual per say, but what was odd? The ridiculous amount of cards I left with.

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: I’m still getting used to this whole adulthood thing. Up until last fall, when I moved from home and got hitched just weeks later, I was pretty accustomed to my mom — thoughtful, kind, sweet and good-hearted Mom — taking care of things like birthday greetings.

And graduations.
And anniversaries.
And holidays.

Mom has a card for every occasion. In her craft room — a space filled with all manner of bits and bobbles — is a drawer stuffed with paper and stationery. Way back when (er, six months ago), if I forgot a friend’s birthday or had an unexpected party to attend or needed to get a condolences note sent in short order? Well, I just pilfered something from Mom’s stash. (With permission, of course.)

And the stash? Well, it wasn’t just greeting cards, of course. There were gift bags and ribbon and wrapping paper for every discernible occasion, and I was spoiled — spoiled, I tell you! — by having all of this at my fingertips.

Things have changed, of course. Since Christmas arrived just a month or so after we got married, I suddenly found myself without any of the gift-y baubles I needed for our presents. There was no Mom there with an already-purchased birthday card for me to sign; I had no gift bag in which to stuff a friend’s present.

It was on me. All on me.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten better about building up my stash so I’m not running out to Target at 9 p.m. the night before I need to get a card in the mail. That’s the other piece of this puzzle, I suppose: I’m a card-sender. I love mail. Getting, receiving, writing, addressing, stamping . . . all of it.

I may be the most dedicated under-age-30 (or age 60?) customer at our post office, a hotbed of disorganization and disgruntled employees, but it’s okay.

A few weeks back, I hit the dollar store to stock up on all the essentials for gift-giving occasions. For less than $10, I had bags and curling ribbon and four rolls of wrapping paper, most unisex. It pains me to spend $4 on something that will be torn through, ripped or discarded, so . . . I’m not doing it. I’m trying to get creative with my packaging so it shows thought but doesn’t bankrupt me.

We don’t want to be bankrupt. Especially so close to closing (May 16!) on our new house.

After I got home from Hallmark yesterday, I pulled Spencer in to look through my stack of cards for occasions through June. There are anniversaries, birthdays, ladies we’ll honor for Mother’s Day. While I can still use my beloved address labels until the move (sigh), we signed and addressed and stamped as many of those babies as possible. I stuck Post-It notes on them indicating when they should be sent in weeks to come, then tucked them into our organizer by the door.

Then I patted myself on the back for being super-organized and adult-y.

Then I wanted a big ol’ glass of wine.

Adult-y, indeed.


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Enduring Potter magic

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Guys. Did you know that this July marks seven years since the final installment in the Harry Potter series was published?

Seven. years.

I was a freshly-minted college graduate working at Borders when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, leading our store’s midnight party with trivia, activities and more. All with the grace and aplomb you’ve come to expect from me, of course.

Kidding. I was acting like a total lunatic, dressed in a black gown I’d originally purchased to wear as the wedding date of a man who would ask me to be his girlfriend in one of the most public, cringe-inducing moments in Megan History.

But that’s another story . . . and one I am totally not putting on the Internet.

(Don’t worry: that man is happily married now — to someone else. No permanent damage done.)

But back to HP. Given I still run an Etsy shop stocked exclusively with Hogwarts fashions (and still sell ’em!), I remain enmeshed in the Potter world. But for the average person? Well, I guess the magic has worn thin.

Or has it?

When Amber recently wrote she was finishing up the first book in the series (for the first time!), I was reminded of all the excitement that came with experiencing the stories myself in 2007. I’d resisted the allure of Potter as my dad and sister, both huge fans, eagerly devoured each new tome in the series.

Dad and Katie were such huge fans, in fact, that I kind of figured that was their thing — and just stayed out of it. As an English student, I guess part of me also thought I was above a “children’s” fantasy series.

I didn’t get it.

Until I did.

Pressed into leading the Deathly Hallows activities that July night, I wanted to have a darn clue who these characters were so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. Given we had almost 1,000 people show up that night, I wasn’t too keen on looking dumb on a microphone — and knew I needed some background knowledge.

I’d seen the films released to date, of course — so it’s not like I couldn’t pronounce “Hermione” or something. But the details? The bigger picture? I didn’t have that. And I wanted to be as excited as everyone else.

I’ve written about this night several times, which is sort of funny. It was a blip in the grander scheme, I guess — the night of this book’s release. But I had just started as an assistant editor at the newspaper, keeping Borders as a part-time job because I loved the atmosphere and adored my coworkers. I started working evening shifts and weekends, dividing my time between the office and the bookshelves.

Fresh from college with my bachelor’s, I was savoring the freedom of reading whatever I wanted whenever I wanted — of no term papers, no homework, no long commutes to school. My family had just returned from Europe, my graduation gift, and I’d fallen in love with London so swiftly that it startled me.

I’d just turned 22 — just two days before.

They were happy times. Pretty carefree times. We all have our problems, sure, but I felt young and free in a way I never had before. And when my manager asked me to be our store’s “mistress of ceremonies,” I was flattered — and took my job super seriously.

Hence my reading of the series.

Flash-forward seven years . . . and I’m still at the newspaper, albeit in different roles. Borders has shuttered and re-opened as a Books-a-Million, which has the bones of the former place but not the soul. My relationship with a coworker there has long since ended, and I met and married a wonderful man in that time.

But I carry those memories with me. Even if I’ve lost touch with the people and customers who filled my days with so much fun and joy, I’ll always look back on my years there — years painted brightly, too, with Harry Potter — with happiness.

On a recent dash into the post office, I learned about a limited-edition book of stamps featuring The Boy Who Lived, along with his friends and enemies. Now — in 2014.

I bought it. I’m using them.

The magic does live on with us. Every day.


Thank-yous and thankfulness

Organizer and sign


We hung our new mail organizer!

I’m really excited about it. Like, too much. More than any human should be.

Aside from my general obsession with the post, hanging this wedding gift — as well as a sign we purchased on our honeymoon — was our first home improvement as a married couple.

There was the red wall we painted in the living room, and the various photos from Yosemite that adorn the hall. We bought and refinished a set of Ethan Allen nightstands that now house all our nighttime reading material and phone chargers — everything that makes up a life, of course — and the coffee table we grabbed on clearance when a local furniture store closed.

But this? This sign in our entryway? It somehow feels big — much bigger than those things. Perhaps because it’s the first decor choice we’ve made as husband and wife? Maybe because you see these decorations the second your little feet enter our home?

Regardless, this makes my heart so happy. I love it. I’m enamored with it.

Also, I wrote about 60 of our 80-ish wedding thank-you notes between Friday night and Sunday morning. That’s what you see piled up in said organizer, waiting patiently to be taken to the post office by yours truly.

My fingers feel permanently cramped. But on a related note, we are truly thankful — for the overwhelming generosity of our family and friends; for the kindnesses of strangers; for the love and support y’all have shown me in the past few weeks. Sixteen days into our marriage, we feel fortunate beyond measure.

If I could send everyone a thank-you note, I totally would.

(How many Forever Stamps would that take?)


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Words on offer

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As we draw ever closer to our Sunday wedding, I find myself reading and re-reading the many notes and cards we’ve received over the last few months. Some came during my bridal showers; others were dropped in mailboxes across the country to wish us well (like Melissa’s, which so touched my heart).

When I talk to others about my love of mail, I often get a wide-eyed look and knowing grin. Their little smile says something plain as day: Well, aren’t you just adorable?

I mean, I get it: mail is considered old-fashioned. Stodgy. Outdated. Letters are a thing of the past, really; one step up from antiques or — gasp! — printed books.

It’s not cool to send mail. Or collect stamps.

But I wish I could change that.

I love to write letters — real, serious, tangible letters. Cards. Mail. I write to my grandma, I write to service members, I write to folks who simply need some love and light in a complicated world.

I spend at least part of my day almost every day with a Sharpie and stack of note cards, sending some words out into the world . . . for no other reason than I feel compelled to do so. It’s my small way of sending joy.

I’m not rich. I don’t have piles of money for worthy causes, though I wish I did. But words? Encouragement? I can do that. I will offer that. Which is why I send letters every year through Holiday Mail for Heroes, a program sponsored by the Red Cross. It may sound a little early to be writing out Christmas cards, y’all, but life is going to get super busy very quickly. It’s not too soon to start thinking.

It’s a simple thing, really: a humble piece of mail. Just words scrawled in honest-to-God handwriting in blue or black or red ink. But it means something to someone, I promise you — just like it means something to me.

Don’t give up Facebook or Twitter or email . . . but remembering how much you value your real-life connections, too. Instead of dropping a “how’s it going?” text to a friend, grab a card. A silly one, a funny one, a random one — whatever speaks to you.

Then let it speak to them.


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Mail love from Arizona

If there’s something I love more than mail, I’m not quite sure what it is.

(Well, maybe Coke Slurpees. And pumpkin spice lattes. And books . . . but you get what I mean.)

When I first heard about The Snail Mail Collective, a postcard-and-small-present swap pairing bloggers in different locales, I jumped at the opportunity. Melyssa at The Nectar Collective helped organize a July theme in which we were encouraged to celebrate what makes our hometown — or home state — special. (And by the way, Melyssa’s site is awesome.)

To my delight, I was paired with the lovely Cassie of Sage, a California-turned-Arizona girl who is also engaged and planning her wedding as we speak! She’s a kick-butt student preparing to get her PhD in Missouri and someone who loves the great outdoors, and her healthy living and positive attitude are contagious.

Her package arrived at the perfect time and was incredibly sweet: fantastic (and delicious!) prickly pear cactus honey; silver and turquoise earrings indicative of the Southwest (so pretty); and a pine cone celebrating Flagstaff’s diverse natural elements (so different from the desert!). Cassie’s gifts were incredibly thoughtful, and I’m stoked to slather that honey on  . . . well, everything.


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If you’re interested in playing along in August, sign-ups are open now through August 7. And if you want to check out what I sent Cassie from the good ol’ Old Line State (hint: it’s tasty), check it out over at Sage!


Postal connections

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Remember the More Love Letters project? I’m still writing strong for those who need a boost, and I wanted to mention the team’s new system: more people! More love letter requests! More good sent out into the world!

I know I harp on the power of the written word (perhaps too often?), but I really believe “real” mail — a letter, care package, little trinket . . . or just a “hi!” card — has the power to restore the spirit. When’s the last time you received something other than a sales flyer, bill or charity request? How did it make you feel?

More than a decade after the digital explosion, I see many people now taking a step back from media like Facebook. Maybe we’ve over-shared. Maybe we’re fatigued from the whole experience. It might seem strange to scrawl this on a blog, of all places, but I also find myself turning a little more inward and sharing less online these days. When I see my friends in person, I don’t want all my stories to be something they already saw on Instagram.

I like having moments — real moments — just for us. And for my fiance. And for my family. It’s not all about shouting into the void, waiting to see if anyone will bite. Life is fragile and way, way too short. We all crave real connection.

Mail can do that.

If the idea of penning words of encouragement to a stranger feels a little weird to you, I challenge you to embrace the weirdness. Get out that box of note cards you got for your birthday but have never had an occasion to use. Pick up a funny card for 99 cents at the grocery store. Heck, steal a page of your kid’s notebook paper and just sit down to write. Whatever you say will be more than enough. There are people who need you. And when you learn about them, the words will come to you. They always do.


Getting ready to save the date

I’ve always been a paper person. Perhaps because I’m a writer, I consider having the “right” stationery to be crucial. I adore cards and address labels, thank-you notes and envelope seals; I love stamps and real mail, both sending and receiving, and open physical letters slowly to absorb every handwritten word. When readers send mail, I choose the perfect stock on which to reply. It’s a way of life.

Wedding planning has knocked my obsession with paper goods up +1,346,878 percent. After getting engaged, one of my first projects was researching save-the-date cards. My mom has proclaimed save-the-dates — postcards, magnets, bookmarks — to be a new phenomenon, though they seem to trickle into my mailbox fairly often. “We never had anything like that when we were getting married,” she says.

I think they serve a practical purpose. With my sister and I both tying the knot within five weeks of each other (!), we’re sending our save-the-dates at the same time to give family and friends ample notice of two weddings happening this fall. We recognize that out-of-town family might not be able to make both celebrations, and this gives them a chance to plan ahead. The save-the-date is a formal announcement — better than, say, reading it on Facebook — and I like that it can be tucked on a fridge or memo board.

And you know I have to have postcards. Given that I constantly have mail zinging around the world via Postcrossing, this surprises no one. My coworkers tease me about how often I go to the post office (which, to be fair, is every other day), calling me “The Post Office Queen.” I’m the annoying person holding up the line while debating the merits of various stamp designs.

In short, paper is important to me. And that’s what led me to Wedding Paper Divas.


Simplified Deco
[Not us. Though I do love her lipstick.]

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Artistic Answer


I’m all about class, polish and sophistication — basically everything I’m not in real life! Heh, kidding. But Wedding Paper Divas offers more than 1,000 designs for save-the-date postcards — and almost 800 for invitations. I’m having a bear of a time narrowing down my choices for invitations, y’all . . . and the fact that I can customize WPD’s products plays a large role in that.

They’re not paying me to say that. It’s just true.

If you’re in the market, I definitely recommend checking out their site. The Knot recommends sending save-the-dates at least six months in advance, and getting your wedding invitations mailed at the three-month mark. I have plenty of time before I need to start addressing those bad boys, but I’m not one to mess around — when stationery is involved, anyway.

And now I can go hold everyone up at the post office buying wedding stamps.

Can’t wait!

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Where do you stand on save-the-dates? Did you send them? Do you like them? Were they popular as you planned your wedding?