Brown Paper Packages

Sri Lanka envelope“Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things…”

Do you remember a time when packages really were tied up up with string, or more often, twine—rough, hempen and slightly hairy? The U.S. Postal Service banned tying string or twine around parcels years ago (15, 20?) because it could jam the machines that sorted mail.

This package from Sri Lanka was already an anachronism when I received it. I can’t remember now if string was yet on the forbidden list in America, but I definitely had never seen a package where the string was anchored in wax. Charmed by the look of a bygone era, I carefully removed the contents and saved the wrapping in a file folder, like pressing a flower in a book.

I don’t begrudge the smooth, uniformity of packages today if it means we receive them faster and more reliably, but one day I need to send someone a brown paper package tied up with string, and wax, to pass on the visceral pleasure. I’ll just pop it all into a machine-safe box before I mail it.