Today I am grateful for a phone conversation with my sister and for the little surprises that sometimes arrive via snail mail or email.

MAIL went from a pretty generic word referring to one type of mail-the kind that arrived on trucks or in the mailman's car and ended up in the mailboxes at the end of our driveways-to a word with multiple meanings and methods of delivery.

I recall in my youth the simple enjoyment and deliberate nature of getting the mail. It wasn't one person's job, but I would sometimes ride one of our bikes down the driveway to pick up the mail. Or someone arriving back from an errand to town would stop and pick it up. Our driveway was probably a good couple hundred yards long, so it took a little effort to bring in the mail. I rarely got anything in the mail, but if I did it was exciting.

Then email, electronic mail, entered our lives in the last two decades. It is a form of communication I do appreciate and find convenient. I don't mind the writing, and I have people I email regularly, especially others in recovery. We offer one another support and encouragement and it makes a true difference in my life.

It is also a mode that my siblings and I will use to connect and that is a good thing. Many aren't the type to pick up the phone and call, but they are the type to read and send emails. With our large family, it is a helpful way to keep up with our families and to make plans.

There is work email, junk email, newsletters, other people's blog posts. I sometimes get a little overwhelmed by it all. So I pick and choose what needs my attention, and I try not to give other people unnecessary emails.

I still like good old-fashioned snail mail though. I use it to send thank yous or gratitude letters, or a poem I wrote. There is something more personal and special, in my opinion, about getting something you can pick up, handwritten, or at least partially handwritten, from another person. I appreciate every piece of personal mail I get.

Technology and electronic devices are changing the way we communicate. Discussing the advantages and pitfalls of that are for another day, but I am doing my part to keep older forms of communication going as well. I sent a couple thank yous out last week and have a couple more to send.

I am grateful I can write, pay for stamps and envelopes, and have a postal service to deliver my correspondence. I am grateful to have people in my life to send mail to.