t first, I didn’t believe it. One day I was arguing with my mother-in-law about where you place soup spoons on the table at Thanksgiving (don’t get me started on her belief that there was definitely bisque at that first Thanksgiving) and the next thing I knew, it was December 22nd. So, when I received a notification that my flight left the next day at 9 a.m., the date suddenly dawned on me. As did the fact that I hadn’t bought any gifts.
Maybe I had too much faith in the internet and the post office, because I believed they could get my gifts there in two days. I scorned in-person shopping. I trusted technology. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t believe the estimated delivery date, why I refused to accept that my packages would arrive on the 27th. I’d seen too many movies about the power of believing in Christmas. There was no way I wouldn’t have my gifts wrapped and under the tree by the 24th evening. I’d not consider any other outcome.
But then the 23rd midday rolled around, and the estimated delivery date hadn’t changed. My package was still stuck in some godforsaken town in Texas. And it angered me — not just because my gift was delayed, but because this was a small symptom of the greater illness in American infrastructure. How can we expect our country to improve, to keep running, to compete in this brutal world economy when we can’t even get a puny little package delivered?! And not that I’ve ever had any interactions with the Post-Master General, but I felt like I’d been randomly selected to be made into a lesson. Yes, fine, perhaps I waited too long to order my gifts, but couldn’t they simply forgive this one slip up? I’m a good person otherwise! I vote! I recycle! I always sided with Lady Diana! But no, just like the Latin saying states, they’re going to punish one to educate a hundred other tardy-gift-givers. And so, my package spent hours in holding in Amarillo, Texas.
Then I realized, I could fix this. I could. I simply needed to call the facility in Texas and tell them that I wanted to upgrade my delivery. See, I’d not selected overnight, but I would now! In fact, I’d even pay twice its cost! It was the 23rd, it was only afternoon, they could get it to me by the 24th. Money was no object! What is money in the face of a child’s smile? I think there are children on my sister’s wife’s side… I tried calling the post office, but there was no answer. So, I closed my eyes and told Santa that if ever there was a time to prove he was real, now was it. I’d do anything he asked of me if he’d simply get my gifts here on time. But when I checked the tracking, no changes.
Hopeless. I spent the evening of the 24th staring into the fire, a glass of spiked eggnog dangling from my fingers as I sat slumped in a chair. There simply was nothing to do. Mother would never forgive me. I’d just proven her right every time she told me I needed to become more organized. And my sister would be unbearable, she’d insist I did it on purpose to ruin her first Christmas as a newly-wed. And the dog… the dog would never bring me his toy to show it off. No, he’d just stare at me, not angry, disappointed. Futilely, I checked the tracking. Illinois. Hopeless, indeed.
And now, I realize there is nothing to do but let it go. I feel for their loss, and yet, it will teach them about life and hardship. And one day they’ll grow up and thank me for this lesson. Meanwhile, I’ll face the family’s judgment with a brave face. You’re not wrong to despise me, but why hold on to anger? Let it dwindle away, like the food you’re all eating downstairs. One day, this will all be a great big joke. This year, my gifts might have gotten stuck at a facility in Wooster, MA, but next year I won’t forget to order gifts in time. And so, please, please can I come out of my childhood room and eat the Christmas dinner with you guys? I’m really hungry and all the spiked eggnog is sitting poorly in my stomach.