Letter of Recommendation: Loveland Valentine Re-mailing Program
To me, from me.
On a rainy day in early October, I met a friend at the Loveland Sculpture Garden. The park was filled with exquisite sculptures-but the rain was pouring, and we found ourselves instead at the Loveland History Museum.
Therein was everything one would expect: an exhibit on Loveland’s beet farming, a reconstruction of the downtown, and a panoramic map. In a corner sat a vintage telephone booth. Upstairs, though, we found a little white machine with a touchscreen. Beside the contraption was a sign that explained its purpose: it printed copies of stamps historically used for Loveland’s Valentine re-mailing program.
The Loveland Valentine Re-mailing Program was founded by the Loveland Post Office in 1947. The premise is simple: people from across the nation- even the world- mail letters and valentines to Loveland every February, where they are then hand-stamped by volunteers with a Sweetheart City Cachet emblem and sent on to their final destination. There are more than 60 volunteers with the program.
I was intrigued by the idea. In the first week of February, I decided to send one myself, to myself. After seeking out instructions on the procedures on the Loveland city website, I pieced together an envelope and, undeterred by my lack of a significant other, sent it off to Loveland to be stamped before being returned to my address.
Postal correspondence is going extinct. In an age where we can communicate within seconds across thousands of miles, there’s simply no point. With emails and texts and faxes at our fingertips, letters, once important, are swept away in a wave of convenience. Stamps and envelopes fall into obsoletion.
However, perhaps this is a double edged sword. Perhaps, if we can do something with the touch of a button, with very little effort at all, but we don’t, it means something. Perhaps effort, along with time and deliberation, becomes a gesture when done in spite of potential shortcuts. Ergo, a letter transforms, with time, from being commonplace into being a meaningful action. While so many shop, on February 13, for last minute flowers and chocolates, mail demonstrates planning and intention- it cannot be put off until the last minute or replaced with large sums of money. A re-mailed valentine is not a last minute purchase.
And thus Valentine’s Day arrives. For some, it is a romantic occasion of exchanges of affection; for others, it is simply another school day. I have not yet checked the mail to find the envelope I sent returned with a stamp, but it’s as they say: neither sleet nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night can stop the mail.