My Turn: A tough Christmas made more difficult by postal service

For the Monitor
Published: 1/9/2021 6:00:53 AM
Modified: 1/9/2021 6:00:37 AM

These days, almost everyone I know has a story about issues with the post office. One friend sent a package to Vermont, and she’s tracked it at two different locations in Florida. Another has been waiting for her holiday cards since Dec. 9.

I am no random basher of the USPS. I bought stamps to support it when John Oliver printed them last year. I appreciate and support my carrier. I have some wonderful stories of parcels I’ve mailed successfully, including 13 boxes of homemade cookies I sent Dec. 7.

But I am beyond upset about the package I sent to my son and his family on Dec. 14. Since I care for my 5-month-old grandson several days a week, I weighed it at home, paid and printed the label, and my carrier picked it up. Two-day delivery, priority mail, $68.30, 16 pounds.

It didn’t arrive by the expected Dec. 17. When the tracking indicated it had left Nashua for the fourth time on Dec. 23, I realized it wouldn’t get there by Christmas. I was deeply disappointed. This was the first year my son wouldn’t be here for the holidays at all. I packed the box with as much Christmas as I could. I included homemade cookies and Santa hats, custom designed neck gaiters and tree ornaments, candied fruit slices from Granite State Candy, socks from Runner’s Alley and Joe King’s; books and a wooden truck for my 15-month-old grandson from Gibson’s. There were hand-drawn notes and family photographs from my youngest son.

We tracked the box daily and on Jan. 2 got an email saying it was going to be delivered. That night, my son called. He’d gotten the package (it was late afternoon on the West Coast). It was clearly damaged. He weighed it and took a picture. The 16-pound package now weighed only 4 pounds. Inside was not one of the things I sent. Instead there were three silicone storage bags (without packaging), a canvas bag, two bottles of liquid cleaner, one of which was open and broken, and a box of film for an instant camera. No note or explanation. No apology.

I am pursuing avenues of complaint, with no idea of my chance of success.

My own family has lost a beloved member in this pandemic, and we know others with terrible grief. A package cannot compare with that. However, in this time when we are kept apart, it is the small things that can bridge the separation. I don’t know how my personal gifts were replaced with random, meaningless items. Tampering with the mail is a federal crime, but I would just like some idea of what happened to the package I sent, perhaps to retrieve the Santa hat my mother made before she died. To have the notes and special, irreplaceable things back. To at least have an explanation.

We have months of difficulties ahead of us, and who knows when I will see my son and his family. These little tokens are our lifelines in the meanwhile and losing them is difficult, especially with no sense of understanding.

(Maureen Redmond-Scura lives in Concord.)

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