As predicted in a recent column, I was finishing up my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve.
I don't plan it that way; it just happens. Even though I love her like a sister, I'm nothing like my friend Brenda in this respect because she usually finishes her shopping in time to celebrate the Fourth of July.
If she didn't have so many redeeming qualities, I would hate her, but alas I can't. She's my kindred spirit in most ways, certainly in the way we view life — i.e., sense of humor, etc.
But shopping? That's another thing. It's never been my forte, but in recent years it's taken on Public Enemy No. 1 status.
A bright spot in the midst of my disorganization is my last visit to the post office just in time to get my gifts off to son Paul and his family in Portland, Ore.
A lot of folks gripe about the post office, but I don't think it's fair criticism. These are good people who work there and they always accommodate me and my eleventh-hour mailings (and I imagine those of many, many others).
I've been known to pay exorbitant amounts to get something to the family members who elected to live in that far-off land (half a country away). Yet I find myself doing it year after year and the post office folks always help me do it — last minute though it may be — but they get it there. Year after year in time for the holiday.
I think the post office crew gets a bad rap from people who live according to the instant-gratification premise.
Anytime I hear the complaints, I think about the wonderful scene in the Christmas film classic "Miracle on 34th Street" where the postal employees haul bag after bag of Santa letters into the courtroom just in the nick of time — literally — to save Kris Kringle from commitment to the funny farm.
How many stories have you heard about lost letters finding their way to the intended recipients years later, healing old wounds and giving explanations to mysteries that seemingly never would be solved? But because the post office always delivers, they got to where they were going eventually, sometimes in time to change a life.
Remember the letter carrier's creed? I think there are several versions, but I remember the one I committed to memory many years ago from the postal directory book that rested on my desk for many years in the old Courier building (Troutt House): "Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
It's a little dramatic, but rings of truth nonetheless.
And maybe sometimes "swift" isn't an accurate adjective, at least not swift enough for some.
But I have to say kudos to the folks who work in the Benton Post Office. There's a different crew there now from a lot of years ago, but I've always found them to be friendly and helpful. They consistently helped me accomplish the mission I faced.
Maybe I could get through a Christmas season without a trip to the post office, but it hasn't happened yet.
So I say thanks to these public servants who get unfair blame a lot of the time for what would best be called procrastination on the part of the customers.
Getting my mail to my family may not be worthy of "miracle" terminology, but I appreciate it, as did my grandson and the rest of the crew out in Oregon.
Keep up the good work, guys. Lots of us still appreciate you. Hope the new year brings good things your way.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.