Writing

Postcards can ease pain of isolation during coronavirus pandemic – Press-Enterprise

Push away the COVID-19 blues by writing a postcard.

Many of us fight feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety during this pandemic. A postcard’s colorful picture and brief personal note can bring the best of the world and a sense of connection to a person confined.

David Stone is a poet who teaches English at Loma Linda Academy. (Photo courtesy of Lyn Connelly)

Pam Dietrich, a resident of Golden Oaks retirement community in Yucaipa, enjoys receiving postcards from a friend.

“It gives me something in the mail besides advertisements and bills. She sends me postcards from her past travels, which provide me another window into the world.”

Dietrich’s physical condition confines her to her studio apartment.

Most of us know residents in retirement communities, assisted-living and skilled-nursing facilities who are experiencing visitation restrictions or others who are choosing self isolation. We may also know students who are facing more distance learning or health-care workers who are choosing not to expose themselves to their families and are staying in a camper or a guesthouse.

Once you start thinking about who would enjoy getting a postcard, you might be surprised how long your list becomes.

You may have discovered during one of your COVID-induced cleaning sessions that you have a stash of unused postcards from previous vacations. If you have not already used those up writing your politician, then you have a starting supply. If you are venturing out for essentials, then you can often find postcards for sale at drug stores like CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreens. You can purchase postcards in bulk at many bookstores and online.

The variety of postcard options online may surprise you. There are thousands. The options of “Women in Science,” “The Art of Pixar,” and “The Art of Vintage DC Comics” tempt me. I am also considering postcards I could color and postcards that glow in the dark. I have already used about a third of the box of 100 cards featuring book covers that I received as a gift last year.

The picture on the front of a postcard is half the pleasure. The back brings what is most personal and precise.

Writing a postcard to someone in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic can mean a lot. (Photo courtesy of David Stone)

The postal service designates the right side of the back of a postcard for the recipient’s address and stamp. A handwritten address not only tells the mail carrier exactly where to deliver the card, but tells the recipient the sender knows where to find them. This is usually a subconscious comfort when the card comes from a relative or a friend. The stamp pays the postal service for the card’s delivery and reminds the recipient that the sender has bought them what is essentially a little gift.

If you properly leave the bottom three-quarters of an inch for the postal system to mark its bar code, you are left with a three-inch square space to write your message.

What to write is the question. Start with the date at the top center. People often keep a postcard longer than they will remember when they received it. Move to the far left of the card, leaving a quarter-inch margin and write your salutation. Go ahead and use the traditional “Dear.” Everyone needs to feel loved these days. Indicate the recipient’s relation or title as necessary, e.g. Uncle Al or Mrs. Umeda.

The body of your message may include words of gratitude, encouragement or news. Be specific. Just remember postcards are public. There is no covering envelope. Including a question will prompt the recipient to respond. You may wish to comment on the postcard’s front design. Close with a word of affection or a positive wish for the recipient’s future.

When you drop your postcards into your local mailbox, joy will come to you, the recipients and the post office.

David Stone (writestone.com) is a poet who teaches English at Loma Linda Academy.