Recently I sent my father a personalized thank you card as part of an ongoing joke between us that started about 40 years ago. It involves postage stamps or rather my lack of them. I enclosed an entire sheet of postage stamps in the greeting card with an explanation that I was finally repaying him for all the stamps I had “borrowed” over the years and thanked him for letting me have one whenever I needed to mail something. Well, his response was definitely not what I expected. Instead of graciously saying thank you, his reaction was along the lines of, “It didn’t begin to cover what I had helped myself to over the years!”
He proceeded to remind me of all the times he had gone into his stamp drawer in his desk and discovered there was not a stamp to be had. He remembered the one time when the mortgage was almost late because I had taken his last stamp on a holiday weekend back in the 70s when they couldn’t be purchased online or at the supermarket. My reply to that was, “Well if the post office is closed there is no mail delivery on a holiday anyway!”
Looking back, I must admit I did “help myself” to a lot of his stamps but for good reasons. I had a pen pal that I wrote to all the time in grammar school (very educational). I used to mail in to a lot of contests throughout high school (to win prizes) and mail in rebates for items I purchased (both of which would save Dad money in the long run). In college, I would usually help myself to some stamps to take back to school with me so I could mail him letters asking for money when I needed it. It was cheaper than calling him collect on the phone, I rationalized. After I got married and moved out-of-state, the stamp borrowing ceased for a few years and I bet Dad missed that I didn’t need him for his stamps all those years.
But the marriage ended and I became a single Mom with lots of bills to pay and pennies to pinch, so when I visited Mom and Dad I would usually bring a few unstamped bills home with me with an explanation that I hadn’t had time to go to the post office to buy stamps. Dad’s reaction was usually, “I didn’t know you even knew where or what a post office was!” Do I detect sarcasm?
I am better these days with my postal issues because I discovered you can buys books of stamps from the cashier at the supermarket. What a great idea! I bet Dad wished he had come up with that idea years ago. I am not even going to attempt to repay my father for all the stamps he thinks I still owe him. But I will mention this – my daughter called me the other day to ask if I had a stamp and a thank you card to send to her aunt to acknowledge the check she had just sent her. I guess there is a “stamp gene”…and you just can’t fight heredity!