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Christmas package delays: Isn't presence better than presents anyway?

Amazon.com Inc.FedEx CorporationSkypeChristmasNorth American Aerospace Defense Command

Talk about a First World problem: Christmas packages that didn’t arrive on time.

Suffice to say, Christmas 2013 wasn’t Amazon’s, or UPS’ or FedEx’s finest hour. But from the uproar, you’d have thought NORAD had mistakenly brought down Santa and his eight tiny reindeer somewhere between Cleveland and Des Moines.

In Time magazine (and to digress just a bit, who doesn’t like its “Every Time Person of the Year in 30 seconds” online graphic? Though try naming/explaining some of those middle decades to your teen in milliseconds!), writer Harry McCracken bemoans the holiday delivery drought and uses it to jump light-years ahead, to the wonderful future when the air will be filled by Amazon drones dropping packages willy-nilly across America.

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OK, fine, Buck Rogers. But here’s another, slightly more practical solution: Instead of blaming Amazon, UPS and FedEx, how about looking in the mirror. Maybe that missing order could have been placed just a wee bit, well, earlier?

So the packages from the companies that most folks readily acknowledge are fabulous 90% of the time didn’t quite make it this year? Alert the media! (Ooops, done that, in spades.) 

Because believe me, I know from personal observation that those delivery services tried. As in the sweating delivery guys riding in pedicabs filled with packages up our hilly street. “Does the delivery day matter that much?,” I asked. Trust me: It mattered to them.

But let's soul-search for a minute, complaining senders: Were you there, on time, 100% of the time, for your loved ones? Or were you in the other room, tapping on the computer and complaining about late delivery?

Might your dad, mom, sister, aunt et al. have appreciated a phone call, an in-person conversation, even a Skype session, just as much as that delayed package?

Is it possible that in another world and another time, the presence counted more than the presents?

I thought of this on Christmas Eve, when the saws, hammers and drills hadn’t stopped in our “must-remodel-now” neighborhood.

I went across the street and next door and down the block, and reminded the workers: “You need every penny, we get it. You guys work really hard, we know it. But today, maybe, can you go home and kiss your wives, your children, your families? What’s so wrong that we can’t let you do that?”

Oh, and by the way, my holiday cards will be late this year. Yup, my postage-by-mail hasn’t arrived yet -- because I forgot to order new stamps until a couple of days ago.

My bad.

I think that today, however, instead of moaning and cursing the gods of parcel delivery, I’ll remember what my Welsh grandmother used to say: “It’s the thought that counts. But don’t wait too long on that thought.”


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