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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Bledsoe

Letter Extras: The art of saving junk to stick in your letters.

You may see a P.F. Flyers box stuffed with crap, but to Katie and I, that is a treasure chest. In it is the pages from many "a day" calendars, news paper clippings, baseball cards, trading cards, and comic strips of all sizes. The purpose of this treasure box is only to save things that we want to stick in letters. I know that we are not the only ones who put extras in our letters, we get plenty. I have gotten bits of washi tape, newspaper articles, hand made cards, photographs, and once even a tea bag. I have one pen pal who curates his extras so personally and exquisitely that I cannot imagine the time it takes him. He finds things that I never have to wonder why he thought I would like them. I do not know how he does it other than dedication and real love.

In wondering how he does it I thought up this blog post. I am going to describe how we curate our extras. Curate is something of a generous term, we really pile them up and send them out at random, but there is something in every letter.

First is the easiest. The newspaper clippings. We get the newspaper, read it, and clip out the comics we want. Those may go into decline soon as we have considered not taking the paper any is an expensive way to get comics and a crossword puzzle honestly. THat leads me to the next one.

Tear Away Calendar pages.

We buy the darned things every year. Every year. We buy them...and we never finish them. I am pretty sure that in 2016 I started saying "This is my year, I am going to finish this calendar this year," and I never have. Hell, the one from 2020 is still on the wall, its last page marking the exact moment I a broken watch on an accident victim.

The monument to last year's failure.

I still buy them though. It used to be "Get Fuzzy" but that one never changes and I have seen and mailed them all. Garfield, Peanuts, History, and now FRIENDS. The friends one is on track, and this really is going to be my year though.

Trading Cards

Oh trading cards. I have a love hate thing with them. I tried to collect baseball cards as an adult, but those things are the biggest friggin cash grab. If you want any of the special ones, it is just easier to go on ebay and get them. I stopped collecting and wondered what to do with them. My sons and I look at them occassionally and they enjoy that, but I mean by the time I realized the error of my ways, there were quite a few of them. Then the idea snapped into being, like the seal being broken on a pack of cards. I could put them in my letters, and so I do. This allowed me to collect some of the ones I really wanted. When I go to flea markets and such, I find all sorts of packs of trading cards, stuff I love from my childhood. They are all nice and unopened and it is like getting a second chance at experiencing these things in their proper time. Sure, most of the box is baseball, but there are cards from the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Batman (1989). Hook, a few E.T. I think, and I know the Addams Family (1993). What is it about trading cards? I have seen all of those movies hundreds of time, yet it evokes emotions from being small seeing Casper and Cat dancing on a small piece of cardboard even if I watched the movie recently with my kids. Maybe I am sentimental. Maybe they are clutter, but I really love getting to experience them for a bit and them put them into a letter hoping they give someone else the moment of joy that they are worth.

I plan to improve the experience starting tomorrow and explain in my letter why I love that one or what it means to me. Think of it as a tiny writing prompt.

What is your favorite thing you have gotten extra in a letter? What do you like to stick in your letters? How do you get them?

Brandon Bledsoe

The Ministry for Uncivilized Behavior

Care Of: Uncivilized Letters

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