Much has been made over the years regarding the relevance of the U.S. Post Office at a time when we can communicate with each other with a few taps of our fingertips. Who sends letters anymore?
But you wouldn’t know that this week, as post offices around the country deal with the Christmas crunch of last-minute cards and packages being sent to friends and family.
“This is the busiest week of the year,” Candace Curry, postmaster at the post office on Woodward Drive in Westminster, told us on Tuesday. The postal service estimates that it will process and deliver 3 billion pieces of mail, including 200 million packages, from Dec. 17 to 25.
Procrastinators can rejoice, however, because there is still time to get holiday gifts shipped by USPS in time for Christmas.
Thursday, Dec. 20, is the last day to send first-class mail, including greeting cards, and packages less than 16 ounces, in order for them to be delivered before Christmas Day in the continental United States, according to a USPS news release. Thursday is also the last day for Priority Mail, which includes packages up to 70 pounds, to be received by the USPS.
Priority Mail Express, which includes additional fees for faster shipping, must be dropped off at the post office no later than Saturday, Dec. 22.
The Westminster Post Office, located at 345 Woodward Road, is Carroll County’s largest full-service post office and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Hours vary at community post offices in Hampstead, Finksburg, New Windsor, Manchester, Union Bridge, Sykesville, Taneytown, Keymar, Mount Airy and Woodbine. To check hours and find a post office nearest to you, visit USPS.gov.
There you can also print shipping labels to speed up your wait in line during the busiest time of the year and, if you’re one of those overachievers that has already sent your packages, you can track where they are in the process.
If the postal service deadlines just don’t work for you, you still have a few options left.
Online retail giant Amazon extended its Christmas delivery deadline from Tuesday to Wednesday, Dec. 19, for free standard delivery, regardless of whether you are a Prime member.
Those who have or who sign-up for an Amazon Prime membership ($119 annually) have until Saturday, Dec. 22 to get free two-day delivery in time for Christmas.
Both FedEx and UPS offer overnight delivery services at a premium fee if you’re desperate, but those packages must be accepted by Friday, Dec. 21, to guarantee delivery before the big day.
Just do everyone a favor — we know it can be frustrating waiting in long lines if you have to visit the post office or another shipping facility at the last minute, just don’t take it out on the employees or other people waiting in line. After all, it’s not their fault you waited until now.
Ticktock and Godspeed.