As Catherine Jackson pored over the moving letters between her mother and her father during his time in the Navy, she was reminded about how powerful the written word could be. Inspired, she decided everyone should experience that feeling and thus The Great Letter Revival came to be. She launched a Facebook page, YouTube channel and a blog, then got to work assembling and sending “Revival Kits”—stationery, stamps—to friends, family and anyone else interested in letter writing.
“The goal of TGLR has always been to bring back genuine, personal, creative and meaningful human connections to our modern world via letter writing,” Catherine says. “We wish to increase communication that goes beyond the generic realms of online socialization, to create memories and human expression, to spread smiles and to ultimately make the mailbox a happy place to visit once again.”
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
The magic of letter writing was impressed upon me at a young age. I remember having a pen pal from Japan who would send the most gorgeous postcards embellished with hand crafted details and delicate origami. And then on the opposite side of the spectrum, when a friend of mine moved away, it thrilled me when her bulky, sloppy envelopes stuffed with a piece or two of Red Vines and her favorite pet rock somehow managed to find its way to my mailbox. This love of letter writing carried over into my high school years and into adulthood. I’ve often had close friends or family move to far off places. Any long distance relationship (friend, family or romantic) is always kept fresh through the sending and receiving of letters. I’ve since then discovered how wonderful it can be to send and receive mail from within the same zipcode, too. A handwritten letter is always a heart-lifting reminder that someone cares about you enough to dedicate the time to write it in words.
What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
That moment when you send your letters on their merry way—the satisfying sound of hearing the squeal of the postbox as you open its mouth to deposit your letter or when you hand them off to your local postman/woman at the post office. It’s exciting knowing that your words are on their way to brightening someone’s day. There is also nothing quite like opening your mailbox and seeing a handwritten letter waiting for you. Guaranteed ear-to-ear smiles!
If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
I would love to receive letters from just any random, unknown person in time. It is tempting to say someone of important historical interest, but I think it would be fascinating to correspond with someone history forgot. Everyone has a story, a unique perspective and something to share. I’d love to hear history through the perspective of some “average joe” like me.
To whom do you most often write?
My friends and family receive the bulk of my outgoing mail. However, I do send out a lot of Revival Kits to letter enthusiasts all across the United States and around the world. I respond to the letters that find their way to the TGLR P.O. Box as well. (The Great Letter Revival P.O. Box 2998 Citrus Heights, CA 95611-2998).
Describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received.
I feel lucky to have received many letters that are dear, memorable and special to me. But, some that come to mind at the moment are the letters from my brother, Paul, when he was serving in the Army during Desert Storm. My family would receive letters from him just covered in his drawings. Cartoons of stinky camels and of him daydreaming about McDonald’s while eating an MRE out in the desert. Receiving those letters eased our worries and made us smile like nothing else.
What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
A uniquely decorated or addressed envelope is always a treat. There are no limits to expression through letters. When an envelope that graces my mailbox is adorned with drawings covering every inch or if the sender addresses the piece in a particularly amusing way (someone used their GPS coordinates as their return address once), I get a little thrill. Ultimately, I think any letter, in whichever form it manifests stands out—whether it be highly personalized and unique stationery or just a piece of binder paper in a Mead envelope. The fact that letters are such a raw form of expression is what makes them special.
Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
I am guilty of purchasing several sets of Harry Potter stamps. I’m also quite fond of the Farmers Market stamps. The Sealed With Love stamps are so classy, as well. You just can’t go wrong with them.
What makes your correspondence distinct?
Finding creative methods to send a letter is a high priority—such as writing a letter on a puzzle and then sending the puzzle pieces in an envelope to a friend or writing in a code that they have to break. It’s fun to be unconventional.
What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
Re-emergence of carrier pigeons! Heh. Nah—I feel the digital tide. I know that correspondence will lean more and more towards digital means as time goes on, but I’m hoping that there are enough people out there who love old fashioned snail mail to keep it going into the future.