We have a post office box the mailman has never laid eyes on. It’s our family mailbox. And through it is exchanged all kinds of magical post.
Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical letters to his own children, I’ve taken to leaving notes for the children here and there. A family mailbox made the magic official. Inside my children find letters from a English woman named Mrs. Brambleyum. She’s my alter ego who loves nature and children, though she has none of her own.
The children love writing letters to Mrs. Brambleyum and then waiting for her responses to magically appear in the family mailbox, along with treats and surprises.
Through their eager letter writing they’re learning handwriting and creative writing skills. No workbooks or drilling necessary.
In drafting replies I’ve found a very satisfying creative outlet for my adult self. Hearing the gasp of the lucky child who finds my–I mean Mrs. Brambleyum’s–letters to them is simply thrilling. It puts a sparkle in our every day.
We keep our family mailbox in the dining room, at the center of our home. In it you’ll also find love notes from Dad to Mama and the kids. He lovingly writes them before he leaves for work while we’re all still sleeping. We’ll see them peaking out of the mailbox’s lid as we emerge for the day, rubbing our sleepy eyes.
My four-year-old can’t write yet. So he dictates his letters to me and draws pictures. Here’s a portrait he made of himself and Mrs. Brambleyum going to the movies together.
This little mailbox, found for a dollar at a thrift store, has become the heart of our little home. I foresee many uses for it as the children grow and develop through the years. For in this world of instant messaging and digital everything, there is still something to be gained by sitting down and taking the time to put words onto paper.
Make your own family mailbox! Nothing is more thrilling than for children to write and receive their own mail. It also serves as a great place to leave notes of love and encouragement to family members.
Find an old mailbox. Even an old shoe box with a slit cut in the lid will do. Put it in a special place were even the littlest hands can reach it. Then let the magic begin!