As another year draws to conclusion, it is time once again to extend sincere holiday greetings to friends and family, near and far. This, of course, includes the readers of Social Correspondence! Thank you for allowing me into your lives over this past year. For those of you who have shared comments, subjected yourselves to interviews, or contributed guest columns, special thanks!
Our mailbox has been filled daily for the past couple of months. First, there was that annual slew of holiday catalogs, offering tantalizing glimpses of everything from flannel pajamas to expensive electronic equipment. Despite my ongoing efforts to remove us from mailing lists, those catalogs keep coming. Though from time to time I will set one aside for its interesting possibilities, purchasing an item in response to a catalog is rare.
Next up in the mountains of mail are holiday greetings that are, in reality, solicitations from charitable or educational organizations. Most are from nonprofits to which we already donate, or from like-minded charities. In order to eliminate multiple solicitations in the mail, I have invited favorite charities to solicit from us no more than once a year. Although it may take a couple of months for this to be effective, I have found that my request is honored, for the most part, reducing paper waste and mailing expenses. Another way to reduce endless solicitations is to become an ongoing, sustaining donor.
What we all really look forward to finding in our mailboxes are real, hand-addressed holiday cards, especially those that include photos and/or personal notes. Although the numbers have diminished over the past decade, there are many of us who still send and receive personal holiday greetings through the mail. It is special and meaningful to exchange messages this way.
As columnist Andrew Vine notes in the Yorkshire Post, “cards…bring people closer in an age where hectic lives often drive them apart, renewing friendships and relationships, which is sociable and life-enhancing, and all for the sake of taking a little time out to put pen to paper… The personality of the writer is there in every stroke of the pen and the fact that it’s taken some time to compose means somebody is really thinking about whoever they are writing to.”
Our postal carrier, “Mr. V”, is the best. Throughout the year, he delivers packages and mail to our door, always with a smile or wave. He never fails to ring the bell when he has a package, often waiting until the end of his shift to make these deliveries, knowing that people are more likely to be at home in the evening. I call him Mr. V, not only to protect his privacy, but also to protect myself. Knowing that not everyone is so fortunate to have such a sweet, reliable carrier, I fear that you will try to steal mine if I reveal his real name.
The U.S. Postal System is experiencing a 10% jump in package delivery this season. According to a recent USPS news release, the service “anticipates delivering more than 15 billion total pieces of mail this holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, USPS expects to deliver more than 850 million packages.”
With this quantity of deliveries, postal theft can be a problem. We are fortunate to live in a family-friendly neighborhood. Our neighbors are our friends. Mr. V will deliver our neighbors’ packages to us (at their request) if they are not at home, knowing that we will keep them safe. Others will do the same for us.
Unfortunately package and mail theft are on the rise. The USPS offers some tips on safeguarding your mail. Good practices include having packages delivered to a safe place, such as one’s office, rather to an empty house; mailing letters and important mail in the secure slots inside a post office; when using outdoor postal boxes, try to leave the letter in the box at a time close to the scheduled pick up. Use of surveillance cameras is on the rise, as are use of USPS’s Informed Delivery and the online forum NextDoor.
To some extent, social media is filling in for people who have neither the time nor inclination to send written cards. Generic good wishes are posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other online media. This year, I have received personalized email greetings from good friends who ordinarily do not send cards. Each and every one of these messages is received with pleasure. The annual holiday letter is welcome, too! Please keep it up.
California postal customers fighting back against mail theft – here’s what you can do by Brian Rokos. San Jose Mercury News, April 29, 2017.
‘Porch Pirates’ Steal Holiday Packages as They Pile Up at Homes, by Nick Wingfield. The New York Times, Dec. 19, 2017
The Postal Service is Ready for the Busiest Mailing and Shipping Week of the Year. Are You? USPS News Release, Dec. 18, 2017
Why We Need to Save the Christmas Card and the Art of Letter Writing by Andrew Vine. The Yorkshire Post, Dec. 18, 2017.