By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – They held boxes, holiday cards and unwrapped gifts while patiently waiting their turn at the Thomas Street Post Office on Wednesday, ready to send to family and friends, wherever they are.
An annual tradition necessary for many people, most waiting in line seemed to enjoy the experience. They left packages with clerks and left, some wondering how much recipients will enjoy their presents.
Richard Stuckey, a retired National Guard member who works in Tupelo but lives in Mantee, mailed a present to a friend he met while deployed in Bosnia who now lives in Vienna, Austria. He said they exchange gifts not easily found in other parts of the world.
“My gift to her was something from Mississippi State,” he said. “She gave me a cake from a hotel in Vienna.”
As the holiday season enters the final stretch until Christmas, post offices throughout the country have turned into one of the most popular places. In Tupelo, the post office’s lines continued to move briskly with people entering with packages and most leaving empty-handed.
Gary Roberson, 58, of Tupelo, was an exception, entering with a box to mail and leaving with more boxes and plans to return soon.
On this day, Roberson shipped gifts to friends in four different states.
“It’s kind of been on my list for the last few days,” he said. “I finally got out today.”
Preparing for more traffic at post offices, 29 different locations in the state will extend hours on Saturday and Dec. 21, including in Oxford and Tupelo’s Thomas Street location. Those two days, Oxford will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and in Tupelo, it’s 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For all of the procrastinators out there, plan to wait awhile if you choose Monday to visit the post office. U.S. Postal Service officials said the Monday of the last full week before Christmas is historically the busiest day at most post offices throughout the country.
But long lines and waits haven’t come yet.
Lori Robertson, 43, of Tupelo, stood with one person ahead in line and waited patiently to send her gift. She’s on a first-name basis with postal employees there.
“It’s just part of the holidays,” she said. “But I love going to the post office.”