It seems like no one sends anything by U.S. mail anymore. If you have urgent news, you pick up the phone. If you’re under 35, you text it. Getting the mail just isn’t as much fun as it used to be.
Today’s mail brought three credit card offers, one bill (the rest come electronically), two ads from local real estate agents asking to list our houses, and brochures for day camps that our kids have aged out of.
Where are the handwritten thank you notes and the “wish you were here” colorful postcards from friends on exotic trips?
It’s been a long time since an actual party invitation or a beautifully wrapped birthday gift was delivered to the front door. While we appreciate the evites and Amazon gift cards that are “delivered” to our inbox, we miss their three-dimensional, touchable versions. It’s not the same when you have to print out the gift or invitation to hold it. Every now and then a package arrives and we get excited: Did someone send us a present? What could it be? What store is it from? Then we remember that it’s the replacement refrigerator filter that we had to go online and order from GE.com.
We miss getting surprise packages in the mail and, evidently, we’re not the only ones. There are dozens of gift/product/special thing of the month clubs – and if you sign up, your mail carrier will come bearing a fun gift each month.
We considered signing up for a Fruit of the Month club. Remember those crates of oranges that would arrive from Florida? Harry & David started it all when they took over the orchard business from Samuel Rosenberg, their dad. They grew the unique Comice pear, which was delicious and prized by fruit lovers. When the Depression hit, they needed to find new customers, so they started a mail-order fruit and gift basket company. They remain the kings of the Fruit of the Month clubs.
We like to buy our fruit at the supermarket, so we decided to check out some other “of the month” clubs.
For $10 a month, BirchBox.com offers high-end cosmetic samples “curated” just for us. If we sign up, a handsome box filled with soap, eye shadow, mini-hairsprays, hydrating lipsticks and luxe shampoos will arrive at our door. We don’t even have to be beautiful to join their club: We can shuffle to the door with bed head, wearing our grungy bathrobes, to pick up the gift boxes. But unless the company includes its $85 anti-aging Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer Moisturing Serum in our boxes, we’re not signing up. We need more than their Face Rejuvenator to rejuvenate ourselves.
The Dog Treat of the Month Club offers a “full pound of doggie-deliciousness” in the form of fresh-baked gourmet dog treats. Fido will geta new shape and flavor each month. The club promises that your dog will be so excited to taste this amazing treat. But wait a minute: The doggie treats cost twice as much as the cosmetic box, and we don’t have a dog.
Feeling neglected, we checked out the Cookie of the Month Club. Compared with the gourmet dog biscuits, which come in orange and yellow and pink and are dipped in sprinkles and shaped like flowers, the plain brown cookies – meant for human consumption – didn’t stack up.
The Pickle of the Month Club delivers jars of pickles to your front door. You can choose among their sweet, sour, bread and butter, and spicy varieties. At $18 a jar, it adds up to almost $300 for a year of pickles. We prefer to go to our local deli and have our pickle with a nice turkey sandwich. It has a whole pickle bar where you can spear your own, and it’s free. Life is good.
The Hot Sauce, Puzzle, Jerky, and Candle of the Month options didn’t interest us either. All are available and looking for new members for their exclusive clubs, but we don’t want to join and go to a lot of unnecessary meetings.
At the bottom of the list, for those who can’t make a decision, is the Grab Bag of the Month club. Even the description sounds bad: “This club gets items out of our warehouse and into your hands at a great value.” There are no photos of the products you’ll receive, just a question mark. A disclaimer says, “This club is not for picky people. It is for those who love all foods or for groups of people who will eat anything.” As Groucho Marx said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”
We agree that the Coffee of the Month club is tempting. We think that a week of hazelnut followed by Zanzibar gold and then Hawaiian kona would be great, but whom are we fooling? After a month of all that variety, we’d be longing for our tried and true. We’re particular about our coffee and we know what we like. Ellen gets Zabar’s coffee delivered to her house; Joyce gets her dark roast shipped from Costa Rica. We like to think we’re adventurous, but don’t mess with our morning joe.
Most of the clubs offer 3-, 6- and 12-month options. While we love the idea of a present coming in the mail, we think 12 months of anything could be too much. No matter how unusual it is at the start, after you open it three or four times it will become the same old, same old. It’s like people shouting “Surprise! Surprise!” at you over and over again.
Come to think of it, we have enough surprises courtesy of our aging memories.
If we order a box of chocolate-covered strawberries right now, between now and the time it arrives, we’re likely to forget that we ordered it. We’ll stand at the front door, look down at the package and wonder who sent it. Then we’ll exclaim: “Oh, it’s from me!” and dive into this thoughtful, perfect gift.
Maybe we’ll even write ourselves a thank you note, put a stamp on it, and send it in the mail. We’ll be delighted when it arrives.