There are a lot of perks to raising kids in a small Southern town like Greenwood, MS. But if you asked my kids what the best part of living here is, they'd all list one thing in common in their top three things they love -- the mailman. In an age of email, text messages and instant messages, here in Greenwood, real mail gets delivered right to our front door.
I was surprised, when we first moved to town, at the lack of mailboxes. But the squeak of the mail slot on our front door and the familiar thunk of the mail on the old wooden floors is a comforting ritual. As the screen door slams shut behind him, I'll often look up to see him crossing through our yard on foot, to make his way, house by house, down our street.
If my daughters are home, they scramble for the mail like a loose football during the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship game -- elbows are thrown, hair is pulled and who ever comes up from the pile with an actual piece of mail with their name on it is the winner. It doesn't matter if that mail is a reminder card from the dentist to get their teeth cleaned, if it has their name on it, they are thrilled.
My mother-in-law, their Grammie Plum, is fantabulous about sending them things in the mail. Little cards on their birthdays and packages on every special occasion: Easter, Valentine's Day, Flag Day... any excuse to let them know she is thinking of them and misses them. It doesn't even matter what's in the box, it's the novelty of holding something in their little hands that came straight from their Grammie.
Recently, Sadie, my 4-year-old, was sick and home from school. I heard the creak of the screen door opening, the thwack of the mail on the floor, the smack of the screen closing and waved to the mailman through the window as he crossed the front porch. Sadie met me at the stack and handed bills and catalogs up to me.
"Oh look! This one is for you!" I told her, plucking a small white envelope with her name on it off the ground. "It looks like an invitation to a party!"
She squealed and ran to the mail slot at the front door, prised it open with her fat little fingers and yelled through the crack, "FANK YOU MR MAILMAN!!" She opened her card and inside was a birthday invitation for a little boy who was in her preschool class last year. I read the card to her; a sweet little poem about astronauts, space and turning 4 with a note at the end that the "mission" required socks.
Sadie was so excited. We talked about the party and she carried the invitation with her for the rest of the day, pretending to read it. "Dis mission rekwwwwirrres socks," she'd say carefully.
Aubrey and Emma, her older sisters, got out of school early that Friday after having their school's field day. They came home with treats and prizes and plenty of stories about their day. The longer her sisters talked, the more visibly Sadie puffed up. Not wanting to be outdone, she put her hands on her hips and announced, "Well, I'm going to da mailman's birfday party on Saturday and socks are rekwwwirrred for dis mission." Her sisters looked at each other in confusion and suddenly, her yelled, "Thank you!" out the open mailslot made a little more sense.