It’s all Martin’s fault

It’s Martin Luther King Day. I hate Martin Luther King Day.

It’s not because I have anything against the man. Him I like, as well as what he said and his valiant efforts to bring some peace and equality–maybe peace through equality?–into the world. No, what I don’t like is that its designation as a federal holiday means we don’t get any mail.

In saying that, I feel a bit like those old fogies on my sons’ paper routes whose only reason for getting up in the morning, apparently, was to read the newspaper. When the paper was late because of winter storm, press break-down, or a delivery truck flat tire, my sons bore the brunt of their very nasty ill temper. And they all insisted they be the first on the route to get that paper, a nice piece of illogic that none of them could seem to recognize. Get a life, I wanted to tell them.

Our Very Own Mail!

Here’s proof. The big event for me when we first moved here nearly six years ago was bringing in the first piece of mail–a letter from my mother. Photo by George Sawyn

I assure you, my day isn’t defined by what comes in the mailbox. Whether it comes at all is another thing. Sundays I understand, because even I refuse to work on Sunday. But a holiday where only a select few get the day off? What’s with that? Isn’t it more important that the mail go through?

Today, for instance, was the day the weekly letter to my mother was supposed to go out. Last week’s weekly letter, that is. Every Thursday or Friday, like clockwork, I send my 92-year-old mother a letter. In a pinch, when I’m running behind, the letter goes out on Saturday. She still gets it early the following week.

Last week, for various reasons, the completed letter didn’t make it to the Saturday mailbox in time. That’s OK, I thought; I’ll get it out Monday and it will still be there mid-week. Oops, nope, guess again. It’s one of those no-mail days. If I were like those old fogies from my kids’ paper-route days, I’d be calling my postman and complaining long and loud.

Lucky for him, I’m more sensible. Doesn’t mean I like it any better. My whole day has been one of false starts: heard a truck rumble past, thought “mail!” and then remembered. Got the dog dressed up to walk in this frigid weather, grabbed the mailbox key–and remembered. Got excited about our parish directories that were to be mailed out today–but nope, that’s not going to happen.

If I’m brutally honest, I’ll admit that there’s never anything very exciting waiting in that box. A letter from my mother, once a week. A letter from an incarcerated friend, now and then. Packages, as often as I’ve found something irresistible during online browsing. Other than that, it’s catalogs like crazy because every online merchant in the universe seems to have my address; incessant letters from Charter cable which can’t seem to accept the fact that we don’t have a TV for anything other than watching Netflix DVDs or streaming; credit card offers, solicitations, the odd bill now and then. And did I mention catalogs?

How often I get good mail isn’t the point. It’s the possibility of getting good mail. It’s that wonderful feeling of anticipation, like buying a lottery ticket knowing you’ll probably never win but savoring that tingly, anything-can-happen feeling that you might win. This might be the day when I get an unexpected piece of mail, like a real letter from an old friend or a dear relative, or a package I forgot I ordered, or–better yet–that someone ordered for me.

Every morning we wake to a brand new day with nothing written on it, and anything can happen, I’m fond of telling people. The same is true of mailboxes. They may sit there cold and empty in that dim morning light, but there’s always the hope that they’ll fill with a delightful surprise when the mailman goes by.

But not today. Today is Martin Luther King Day. I have a dream, he said. I’m sure it didn’t include a vast, coast-to-coast sea of empty and silent mailboxes. He was about bigger and brighter things than that.

RIP, Rev. King.


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
This entry was posted in Holidays, Human behavior, Humor, Lifestyle, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to It’s all Martin’s fault

  1. Clif Martin says:

    Where’s your mailbox ? Mine’s across the street, gets destroyed by the snowplow every year.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      Mine’s on the corner, one of those boxes that contains the boxes of several people on the street. First time I’ve ever had to go out of the house to get my mail! But no kind of weather will keep me from checking. George will, though, because he’s even more anxious than I am to check for goodies. LOL!

  2. blb1 says:

    If I want to hear from any family I’d have to check into FB any way. 🙂

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      Unfortunately, that’s true for many of our family, too. FB or email. And I do like hearing from people that way–but I still prefer REAL mail. I wonder if young people have ever received or written a letter, or know the delight of that missive addressed directly to them.

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