Some keep the busy clutter of the holidays separate from annual traditions, or strategically maneuver using shopping and cooking chore short-cuts.
What the Holidays Mean to USPS Employees
How Santa’s Other Helpers Deliver Their Holiday Rush
How do Santa’s helpers in postal blue — those boots-on-the-ground mail carriers, busy with delivering your gifts and cards — manage to carry on a purposeful holiday season with their own families?
One way is by knowing cut-off dates for mailing domestic and international mail. They prepare themselves for Cyber Monday deliveries, a sure sign for them to ship their own packages. Having seen it all when it comes to shipping, postal employees know the best way to prepare their packages.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance during the holiday season is critically important. One letter carrier shares her tactics for handling Black Friday as part of how she balances the holidays and career.
“Balance” for Letter Carrier Casey Sexton means spending time with her family enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday, concentrating on home life then other obligations. “It usually depends on my schedule, the kids’ schedule and their grandma’s,” she says.
Then Sexton gets her head into go-mode. On Black Friday, free of children to tend, she shops for pre-holiday bargains together with her mom and grandma.
The letter carrier works hard during the Postal Service’s Peak Season. This is Sexton’s fourth holiday season at the Postal Service. There are more than 750 delivery points on her 100 percent walking route. But Sexton, a hiker in her off hours, doesn’t get fazed.
Work after the holidays lends itself to more holiday cheer. Letter carriers are a tight-knit bunch and work as a team to deliver the holidays for the communities they serve. Post-holiday reminiscing occurs as Sexton joins co-workers after work at her favorite local Mexican or Chinese restaurant. “We get together and go celebrate after a season of serving everybody who’s got to have their packages,” she says.
A feast of letters
Homemade soups and macaroni make Letter Carrier David Filosa think of the holidays at his house. “I’m Italian, I love Italian sausage,” he says.
He’s worked the holidays for 37 Christmases at USPS and what stands out to him is something he saw his parents do.
The couple used to send out 300 to 400 Christmas cards a season. “They even sent a card to their next door neighbor,” said Filosa. “The cards were a way to touch base, a way of saying ‘How are you?’”
He follows their tradition, preparing messages to 125 of his friends and family on the cards he sends with his wife. “I’d rather see handwriting,” he says. “That’s better than just getting a text message.”
Over a weekend at home, Filosa and his wife get out their address book. “We always update the addresses,” he says. “I get all the stamps,” and after addressing the envelopes, off they go.
Their list includes residents and businesses from his route. As proof he’s not the only one who values connectedness, his legacy of outreach adorns the wall at the local auto repair shop where past Filosa Christmas cards still hang.
Feeling the love
Beginning the week of Dec. 10, customer traffic is expected to increase and the Postal Service expects to deliver nearly 200 million packages a week during the two weeks before Christmas.
Postal employees themselves are responsible, in part, for the upswing. Their “insider knowledge” which they freely share, includes letting customers know that Priority Mail shipping boxes are free and can be ordered.
“We love shopping,” says Retail Associate Orly Yagual of himself and his wife. “We do have a lot of deliveries that come to the house.”
Besides the gifts, he looks forward to special holiday dishes originating from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic that will fill their table. The luscious mix of cultures come from his and his wife’s native lands. His children, he says, are from America.
“I can’t wait ’til Christmas comes. I can’t wait to see my kids’ faces,” he says.
“I love to see customers when they’re shipping their gifts. They tell me their stories of who they’re shipping it to and why,” he adds.
Yagual takes joy in helping people who come to his retail window to mail packages, cards and letters. He benefits from doing a job well done, something he learned as a Marine and Navy veteran. But most of all, Yagual relishes a holiday mindset.
“It gives me great pleasure that the service we’re providing is not just business,” he says. “We’re like the wise men delivering gifts.”
Meaning comes in doing
And what more can be said? There is not room enough to go through more than 630,000 Postal Service employees’ actions and experiences during the holidays, those who work long hours, who attend diligently to processing and delivery, who advise customers to use a return address or to not mail cash. There are even some who find time to deliver seasonal good deeds, like Letter Carrier Peter Ronayne, who helps veterans in his community and people in need.
Or like Letter Carrier Christine Searles and her husband, a rural carrier, who volunteer by selling Christmas trees with money going toward high school academic scholarships.
“I like the holidays,” says Searles, who shares she’s only received one fruitcake in 31 years. “It’s my busiest time. Everyone’s in a good mood on the route. You get to deliver their Christmas gifts, which is nice.”