My husband is from Europe, so we have family there – a parent, a grandparent, siblings, a sister-in-law, a serious boyfriend, dear family friends and a precious new niece. Each year, we scramble to assemble gifts, lovingly and carefully wrap them and then race to get them in the mail in time to arrive under the tree before 24th December. We look forward to it every year and many years, a portion of Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is spent Skype-ing, opening gifts together. It is a beautiful tradition, one we enjoy and look forward to each year.
In my head, this is how those packages travel to Europe:
I should be ready for this every year, but it is always the same when we go to mail “The Box” – the intrusive and invasive customs form (why bother wrapping anything when the packing list includes each item, its value and weight), the surly USPS counter help, the litany of questions (no, no cadmium batteries, cologne or anything fragile, liquid or perishable) and finally, the painful total (including additional insurance) at the end. Yeah. It is a bit crushing to one’s holiday spirit. And, once the credit card has been run through, we watch as our carton of beautifully-wrapped holiday packages gets “tossed” onto a mound of other boxes, destined to be scattered to the four corners of the earth.
Instead of traveling as pictured above, the gifts for our loved ones instead move like this:
…then they get scanned and sent to a distribution center where they get scanned again, then funneled thru to get screened by customs, at which point they “fall off the grid,” hopefully to resurface 6-10 business days later at their final destination. My Beloved and I wait every year for the text or email that says “THEY’RE HERE!” – then breathe a sigh of relief.
In the five-plus years I/we have been sending packages to Europe, only one ever got “lost” in the Bermuda Triangle that is the USPS system. It was a small envelope with some Halloween decorations and surprises inside. Every year, I wait to be contacted by some European media group, wanting to interview me now that my package arrived three years later. I’m still waiting…
I have no doubt this package will arrive safely and, once it does, new worries begin – will they like “it,” will “it” fit (an 8000 mile round trip return is pretty much out of the question), did “it” arrive in one piece – or did the bubble and peanuts let us down? Sigh… Such anxiety at holiday time.
Thing is, they always love everything, 99% of the gifts come thru unscathed and the excitement and joy the recipients show/share is MORE than worth the hassle.
So, now – “The Box” is en route. Next up? Holiday cards. Ugh…