A Pen Pal Friendship Story

pen pal friends

Have you ever opened an envelope that says “Magic Inside”? It’s something my pen pal friends and I write on the back of our letters to each other to signify that something exciting has just been delivered. The most recent letter I received from my pen pal, Makenzi, had that phrase neatly written on the back bottom corner and I gasped when I saw it. I ripped it open and the first thing that fell out onto the kitchen counter was a crystal oracle card that she enclosed. This is the second crystal card she’s given me and it made me smile. The first was a carnelian card (to stimulate creativity) and this one is a turquoise card (for when you want to express something).

I then found a note from her about what’s been going on in her life in the past month. She also included a patterned piece of paper with “Mail Tag” questions like “Favorite holiday?” and “What are your moon and rising signs?” Astrology lingo for those wondering!

Makenzi’s letter to me

There’s something about hand-writing a letter, putting a stamp on it (I recently bought these flower stamps), and sending it off into the world that feels like a warm hug. My friends call me “Mabel” because I’m like an “85-year old trapped in a 33 year old body”. Don’t get me wrong – I love technology as much as the next Millennial, but old-fashioned stationary and markers are really where my true love lies.

Back in 2015, I started a pen pal program called Happsters Mail on this blog and had the best time matching up readers with each other. One of the people I matched up was one of my childhood best friends, Maggie. She and her pen pal, Kylie, are still writing to each other to this day! I’m always so curious to hear the ins and outs of their pen pal friendship when Maggie brings up their letters, so I wanted to share the interview below featuring Maggie and Kylie. I hope that it inspires you to mail a note to a friend or family member soon.

First up, my interview with Maggie about her pen pal friendship with Kylie:

  1. Where do you live?

San Diego, California

  1. How long have you been writing pen pal letters to each other and how often do you typically write to each other?

We have been writing to each other since the beginning of 2015. We used to write to each other monthly, but the turnaround time has gotten longer as life has gotten more complicated. I would say it’s maybe 4-5 times a year now.

The first letter Maggie received from Kylie
  1. What do you think it was that helped you continue to be pen pals after all of these years?

I think we have stayed pen pals for so long because we have truly become friends. When we first started writing to each other, I had just gotten engaged. Now we are both married with kids! We have also supported each other through job changes, personal/family life events, and of course the pandemic.

  1. What’s one or two of your favorite things that Kylie has sent you?

Kylie sends really thoughtful birthday surprises! She sent me some cool beeswax wraps that I love, and always nails it with the snacks. But my favorite part of every correspondence is just reading what she has been up to in her life.

  1. Have you met in person or are you ever planning to meet?

Since we live so far away, we have never met. I would love to meet her someday! We started following each other on Instagram a couple of years ago, so it allows me to sort of see what her world looks like.

  1. Do you ever have themes for letters depending on the time of year (i.e. your birthdays, certain holidays, etc.)?

We definitely have themes depending on the month/season of the year. I love getting Kylie’s Christmas card every year (and sending her mine when I have the energy to make one)!

Holiday snail mail
  1. What’s something you love about having Kylie as a pen pal?

I love having a friend that I haven’t actually spoken to in person. It’s unique and old timey and cool! I never would have crossed paths with Kylie, and yet she is a really supportive person in my life. It brings me a sort of grade school nostalgic joy when I receive her letters in the mail. Then I get to be creative and tactile in return, which is wonderful too.

I hope that we always continue to write to each other. Maybe our kids can be pen pals someday!

Here’s what Kylie had to say about writing to Maggie for all of these years:

  1. Where do you live?

I live in rural Southeast Iowa, just outside of a very small town, Keosauqua.

2. Had you ever written to a pen pal before? What made you want to sign up for one this time?

The only time I’ve previously written to a pen pal has been through school assignments growing up and those were always short lived. This is my first real, long term pen pal. I decided to sign up because I was just fresh out of college, had a lot of time on my hands, and was looking to add something new to my life. I thought having a pen pal could lead to some fun experiences and hopefully a new friendship!

The first letter Kylie received from Maggie

3. What kinds of things do you typically include in your letters to each other?

Our letters vary depending on what’s going on in our lives but it’s usual a general update of what’s been happening in our lives since the last time we wrote to each other, holiday or vacation plans, books we’re reading, and often small seasonal gifts, stickers, trinkets, etc.

4. What’s one or two of your favorite things that Maggie has sent to you?

My absolute favorite thing Maggie has ever sent to me was for my birthday a few years ago. She sent me the cutest tin seed organizer (I’m a big gardener). Not only was it super cute, but it’s super useful and I still use it to organize my seed packets and keep track of my gardening!

The tin seed organizer Maggie sent Kylie

5. Do you have any tips to give someone who is just starting a pen pal relationship?

My tip to someone who is just starting out with a pen pal is to be open and playful. I loved that Maggie and I started out with exchanging an “about me” card that asked silly questions we wouldn’t normally think to ask but really helped us get to know each other. By being open to answering questions (especially silly or playful ones) you can find things you have in common or maybe find out something about them that you want to learn more about.

6. Where do you come up with ideas on what to include in your letters? Do you look online, at Pinterest, or just come up with them on your own?

When we first started out I initially looked to Pinterest for inspiration but have found that I don’t really need to anymore. Our letters are pretty intuitive anymore and we always include a “mail tag” card that asks different questions that don’t flow in our letters, seasonal things (what Summer foods are you enjoying right now?/ Any New Year’s resolutions?/ What are you dressing up as for Halloween? etc)

7. What’s something you love about having Maggie as a pen pal?

I love that Maggie and I live very different lives (Iowa and California are very different in lots of ways!) but we have SO MUCH in common! I almost feel like Maggie and I are the same person in some ways and we could definitely be best friends that hang out every day if we lived near each other. Her letters are so warm and she feels like someone I’ve been friends with my whole life so I have no problem opening up to her like I would with any of my other close friends. I love that I have made a lifelong friend out of being her pen pal!

I’m so grateful that I signed up for a pen pal and that you set me up with Maggie. She was definitely the perfect choice for me and has brought a lot of joy to my life! To anyone contemplating getting a pen pal, you should do it! It’s so much fun!

Thank you Kylie and Maggie for sharing your pen pal friendship with us today!

If you’re interested in getting your own pen pal, here are some organizations that match you up:

I’ve been considering opening up the Happsters Mail Program again soon as well. Send me an email at happsters@gmail.com or comment below if you’d be interested in being matched up.

Have you ever had a pen pal? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

8 thoughts on “A Pen Pal Friendship Story

  1. I love pen-pal-ing, and I have tons of pen-pals from the USA (I’m from Malaysia), so I can totally relate to this. I got mine from the fountain pen subreddit, but sites like Global Pen Friends have been amazing too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So happy I came across your blog! I take people through mindfulness/meditation/gratitude exercises every day for work. I am definitely going to recommend your blog to my clients!
    I signed up for Geek Girl Pen Pals after reading! 💜

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Hilary! Great to have you in the community and am excited to hear about your experience with Geek Girl Pen Pals! Please keep me posted 🙂

  3. Kelli, I really enjoyed reading this story. I don’t have a pen pal, but I remember wanting one as a child. O agree it’s such a beautiful bond for sure. We actually recently moved across three provinces, and My daughter and her best friend decided to give pen palling ago. (They are 8). I’m so excited for them.

    1. Oh my gosh, that’s the cutest thing that your daughter and her BFF are pen paling! What a great thing for them to do instead of be on their phones 🙂

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