MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, December 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. The U.S. Postal Service delivers billions of pieces of mail every year. That includes Christmas packages to members of the U.S. military serving overseas.
Commentator Kim Henderson knows all about that.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: To the nice lady who witnessed my near meltdown at the post office a few years back, I’d like to offer an explanation.
You see, it was the first time I ever had to put Christmas in a box and mail it across the international dateline to a loved one who was living tomorrow while I was still living today. Yes, I know people have been sending packages to other hemispheres for years, but it was my first time so there was this learning curve, you know? And trying to pack everything in those military boxes you pointed to in that kiosk was tougher than I thought, especially the miniature LED Christmas tree. Then there was the gift from his grandparents and the candy his sister made and that photo book I stayed online until four in the morning trying to figure out.
So when you asked that hazmat question regarding perfume and I asked if that meant cologne, too, and you answered in the affirmative, well, we both knew what that meant. You passed me some scissors and I removed the triple cologne set I had carefully selected during the Black Friday rampage for my son and his roommates, Valdivia and O’Shea.
(In the military, it’s always last names. I’ve learned that, just like I’ve learned about airmail restrictions. On the gift tag, though, I actually wrote their first names. I figured even a Marine wants to be known by his first name at Christmas.)
Anyway, I sucked up the meltdown I could feel brewing within me and culled that gift from the box. You watched me do it. Those three would just have to leave the aromatherapy for later.
And I might very well have lived my whole life without knowing much about mailing to an APO/FPO or the whole military thing in general if my son had not enlisted. I would still be calling the members of every branch “soldiers” and looking at pictures of recent boot camp graduates in our local paper and wondering, “Why in the world did they do that?”
I’m glad I’ve been enlightened.
And one of the important arcs in my military-mom learning curve was mailing some very important Christmas packages while a November calendar still hung on our fridge.
So nice lady at the post office, thanks for helping me through that near meltdown. I thought you’d like to know that when our son FaceTimed us that Christmas, their room was lit by an odd green glow that only LED lights can provide. Yep, it was his tiny Christmas tree, the one you watched me squeeeeeze into what was left of one of those boxes. That tree stood proud right below a strand of silver tinsel some cologne-less Marines, 7,000 miles from home, draped between their closet doors.
I think they and all the other far-away loved ones receiving packages that were christened at your counter would want me to tell you thanks, and have a very merry Christmas.
I’m Kim Henderson.