In the end, it was my fault; totally, completely, undoubtedly my fault.
In the beginning, we were hoping that our Up North family would be able to make the long trek down to the Cutoff for Christmas. On Monday we learned it was not to be with a decision pending on whether or not to hold their Christmas presents until Tom and I could travel to Minnesota or to mail them in time for the little ones to open on Christmas Day.
Like the “Little Engine that Could”, I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could – and I did. On Wednesday, I huffed and puffed, in between making caramels with Jennifer, as I hurriedly wrapped presents while my Antler Man found a very big box to mail them in. We wiggled (but did not giggle) the gaily wrapped gifts until they fit like a glove into the box and I hastened to the La Grange Post Office, for the second time in as many days.
On Monday, I sent up a box of this and that; shortbread, story books, holiday stickers. The type of package grannies mail for little tykes. While the postal worker weighed the box, I wrote the mailing address from a torn slip of paper onto a shipping label. Signed and sealed, all that was left was for the package to begin its journey and be delivered.
On Wednesday, the postal worker remembered me as I waddled in with a box five times the size of Monday’s. It was one of those rare experiences at Christmastide where there was no line in the post office. Hark and joy and merry, thought I, as Mr. Postman weighed the very big box and I labeled the address from the same slip of paper I previously used, insured the box of gifts, and I headed home with assurances that Katy and Crew would have a box of Christmas by Saturday.
Stay with me, now, for here is where my fable, er foible takes a turn.
On Thursday night, using a tracking number, I checked to verify that package number one had been delivered, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a note in a line atop the package’s course stating it was being returned as there was no such house number.
Now, a package of shortbread and stickers wasn’t all that important when the mother lode of gifts was but two days behind on the holiday trail. Still, I had hoped to send some pre-Christmas cheer to fill the long hours that little ones (and big ones) endure the week before Christmas. It looked like my efforts were foiled. My dear husband and I checked the zip code, the address on the slip of paper that made not one, but two trips to the post office, etc. Why was the box undeliverable?
Perplexed, my sleep was broken on Thursday night for, you see, I had hustled and bustled to get the big box out the door. Would it also be returned, likely on Christmas Eve? Was it now an Elvis song? Return to sender, address unknown, no such number, no such zone?
In the light of day, I put the slip of paper with the address next to our phone directory – and I immediately saw what I hadn’t seen before, proof that I really did have a big birthday undermining my ability to print! I had transcribed the first two numbers of the address on the slip of paper, which I wrote on not just one, but two packages!
Are you still with me?
Good, because this leads to the angelic part.
I knew that package two was still in transit, thanks to tracking numbers. I called my post office and explained my dilemma. Mr. Postman was kind and said such errors often happened, especially at Christmas time, but, that he could do nothing. He suggested I call the receiving post office in Minnesota – and he gave me the phone number.
On the Friday before Christmas, mid-morning, my phone call to Minnesota was answered – on the second ring. Ms. Postwoman listened, patiently, as I described my conundrum. She checked the tracking number, the real address and the transcribed one. “Ma’am, there is not much we can do, but, I will let the person routing that package know to see if we can catch it before it goes out on delivery. I can’t promise you, but, we will try. “
Our postal service is often maligned, dear ones, but let it be said that come rain or snow or sleet or hail – or a befuddled grandmother – the mail does get through. On Saturday, way Up North, a well-stuffed Christmas box found the right house thanks to some very fine US Postal workers. In the busiest of weeks in the busiest of months, a few kind souls gave me hope on the road called life, and I am very grateful.