The season for shipping and receiving is here.
HOWLAND — Lining up at the post office is for many a practice as ingrained as decorating the Christmas tree or hanging stockings.
And with the season of giving comes the season of gifting, so for friends and families separated by geography, mail delivery services see a peak in customers.
People like Cathy Fowler, 39, of Howland, come to the post office every year with a special package.
“I send my daughter things throughout the year, but Christmastime is a given for us,” said Fowler, holding a taped-up cardboard cube addressed to her daughter, Cara.
“Every year we ship her a tin of her favorite homemade cookies,” she said, including peanut butter cookies, snickerdoodles and date bars. “She misses out on the family gathering because she lives and works in Dallas, so we make sure to send a little [of our] home to her.”
Fowler’s package is just one of the estimated 19 billion holiday items the U.S. Postal Service expects to deliver between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The spike in sending can mean long lines for Fowler and others up until Dec. 23, which most major delivery services say is the cutoff date for mailings to arrive by Christmas Day.
That’s why 19-year-old Lauren Visecco said she rushed to the Howland Township Administration Building, where the post office is nestled near the entrance, Tuesday morning.
“Last year we were on time with this,” she explained. “But she should still get it by Christmas.”
Carrying what looked to be a shoe box, Visecco explained that her family will surprise her older sister with a couple of cards — one for reading and the other for shopping. She said her family pitched in to get her sister, Anna, a Visa gift card, which she will likely spend on clothing.
“There’s also a card [inside] that the whole family signed on Thanksgiving,” she said. “I think [the gift] will be nice, but hopefully she’ll be surprised by the card we made.”
For others, however, mailing their gifts is a relatively new concept.
Tera Jasper of Warren sent off a cardboard envelope to her grandmother Jeraldine, who lives in Dayton, since Jasper moved to Warren last year. Jasper said she doesn’t see her grandmother often.
And the gift: a hand-knit scarf.
“I started knitting after I took a class,” said Jasper, proudly, “And I’ve been telling her about it over the phone. She says she doesn’t believe I can knit, so I made her something.”
Before sealing the USPS envelope, she revealed a tightly woven, long, gray and black striped scarf.
“I think it’ll go with whatever she wears!” said the 28-year-old of her grandmother, who is almost 90.
“I only see her maybe once a year, so we talk a lot [on the phone]. I think it will make her Christmas.”
Some customers in line had packages with farther destinations.
“It’s just a care package with some things he likes,” said Anthony Slonsky of the flat-rate shipping box he held. “... A couple Sudoku books, some bubble gum and his MP3 player.”
Slonsky’s son, Mike, is one of the thousands serving overseas this season.
“He’s been there for five months now, and he’s starting to tell us that he misses us,” he said of his son, who cleans and repairs guns at a base in Iraq. “We want to make sure he stays happy over there, even if that’s hard to do right now.”
Slonsky’s wife, Fran, included a personal letter in the box as well.
“We’re like everybody else here,” he said. “Mikey might be further away, but we want to celebrate the holiday with him from [here in] Ohio.”