A Year in Letters: 2016 Edition!


‘Tis the season to reflect on another wonderful year of snail mail! Once again, I am astounded and delighted by how many lovely people I’ve had the pleasure of “meeting” ever since I decided to start sending mail to random fellow humans around the globe at the start of 2015. I feel very honored to share a letter-writing-relationship with you!

For me, penpalling is all about making friends and glimpsing life outside of my tiny New England town. I’m certainly not in it just to check countries off a list, but after a year of writing I always find it fun to take note of the places from which I’ve received mail. Over the past twelve months, I’ve had the pleasure of sending letters to twelve different countries in Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. Where will my mail travel next? Only 2017 can tell!

(Before you read on, you might want to check out my first “A Year in Letters” post from 2015 to see how my snail mail network has expanded this year!)


This year, I had to upgrade my letter storage to two shoeboxes! (High-tech and high-class as ever.) I continue to sort my incoming mail by sender, and then date. The first box contains alphabetized pen pals A-G, and the second holds H-Z.

Throughout the course of 2016, I exchanged letters with friends new & old from:

 ♥ Europe & neighboring islands ♥ France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Ireland, the U.K., and Iceland

♥ North America ♥ Canada and 9 U.S. states

♥ Australia ♥ 

♥ South America ♥ Argentina


I admired many international postage stamps, including these landscapes from Canada, Iceland, and Norway!


This German stamp is the longest one I’ve ever seen.


Some beautifully coordinated stamps from Ireland!


I think I’m just obsessed with Icelandic stamps in general.


The postcard-clotheslines in my room are nearly full: guess it’s time to add a few more for the new year!

To close, I want to thank those of my pen pals who might be reading this (hi there!) for being kindred spirits and cutting your way through all of the unnecessary tape I use to hold my homemade envelopes together (sorry about that). You might not guess it from my bubbly, exclamation-point-heavy prose style and tendency to post public photos of my quirky outfits, but I’m actually a rather shy person in reality–so these quiet handwritten friendships are very meaningful and special to me. I’ve written to you while sitting on my couch, in airplane seats, and by train windows. I’ve read your replies during summertime lunch breaks, bleak and snowy evenings, and moments when I’ve felt lonely and sad or cheerful and eager to chat with a friend. It’s surreal to think that our paths in our respective corners of the globe may have never intersected without snail mail and the Internet: I’m awfully glad they did.

Here’s to a stamp-filled 2017!


13 thoughts on “A Year in Letters: 2016 Edition!

  1. Lissa Clouser December 14, 2016 / 11:08 am

    I love this post! How exciting to see how many people you’ve ‘met’ from all over the globe. =) I’m happy to have met you this year myself and I apologize for the quietness on the letter front but you’ll be hearing from me again soon!

    • Mailbox Mermaid December 14, 2016 / 4:10 pm

      No worries! I’m excited to hear from you again, although take your time–I’m off to Hawai’i on Friday until January, so I’ll look forward to writing to you again in the new year 🙂

  2. marinegirl1 December 14, 2016 / 11:47 am

    Haha, I store my letters in shoe boxes as well, it’s very practical. Though I’m not quite as organised as you, I sort by sender and date but I don’t have them stored alphabetically 😉 And I have one where I have older letters and a second one with the more recent ones. I’m looking forward to a lot more ocean themed mail in 2017 and I already got your Christmas letter, thank you 🙂

    • Mailbox Mermaid December 14, 2016 / 4:10 pm

      Shoe boxes are great! And, haha, the alphabetization is mostly for fun, though it does make it easy for me to find old letters. I am so glad that you received my letter in time for Christmas! I always look forward to our marine exchanges 🙂

  3. thesnailmail December 14, 2016 / 11:48 am

    Congratulations on a fun year! I like your clothesline. For December, I’ve got several of them going across my fireplace, loaded with favorite postcards I’ve received. I just got a new order of clothespins in the mail yesterday–I somehow misplaced the who-knows-how-old stash I inherited from my parents. Now that I’ve got a fresh 100, the original lot is sure to resurface…heck, probably within hours, I’d say.

    • Mailbox Mermaid December 14, 2016 / 4:13 pm

      That’s always how it goes, isn’t it? I have some extra clothespins at hand but am currently out of pushpins/thumbtacks (pick your vernacular of choice). Like you, I know I have a leftover-from-college bag of them somewhere, just waiting to be excavated…and I might give up and get a new batch!

  4. Idle Emma December 14, 2016 / 6:13 pm

    What a fun year of mail it has been, plus, we’ve been writing for almost a year now – I believe it was your 2015 year in letters post that encouraged me to get in contact with you!
    Here’s to a 2017 filled with interesting stamps to coordinate mail to!
    (Also, I might be doing a revamp of my craft room, definitely going to have to add a clothespin line to display pretty things I get from pen pals for inspiration!)

    • Mailbox Mermaid December 15, 2016 / 2:40 pm

      I was just thinking of that! 😀 Happy penpaliversary! (There must be a catchier name for it than that…) I definitely recommend the clothespin line situation. It is so easy to make and looks good no matter what (an important factor for someone like me, who works in a museum and yet can’t tell if something hung on the wall looks crooked…which is why I’m an educator, not a preparator!)

      • Idle Emma December 15, 2016 / 4:50 pm

        Pfft, who needs things to hang straight! (I too can’t tell if something is hung crooked – I also can’t measure or cut straight lines, I think it’s just things to do with accuracy, me and accuracy just don’t get on well xD)

  5. agirlbakesinnewyork December 14, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    How did you find penpals? This sounds like a fun thing to do in a world used to e-mail!

    • Mailbox Mermaid December 15, 2016 / 2:38 pm

      It really is; I love how penpalling encourages me to disconnect from technology and create letters & envelopes by hand! Weirdly enough, I have found most of my pen pals through the internet: in snail mail communities on instagram, tumblr, and even here through my blog! I also write to friends and family members who are far away, of course 🙂

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