Get a Gift, Save the Stamp

Red And White Christmas Mail Border Around A Blank Envelope
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Front doors, office furniture, Christmas trees.

’Tis the season for supply chain woes.

I refuse to call myself a “supply chain denier” (I don’t watch cable news, thank you very much). But I will cop to “supply chain skeptic” (I don’t watch news at all, you’re welcome). It’s always easier on the agnostic corner, not picking sides but enjoying the show.

For this supply chain business, I could see both sides of the debate. On the one hand, a recent Amazon Prime package arrived in four days. On the other hand, a recent Amazon Prime package arrived in four days. Who’s really to say?

That was, until I saw the light. At the Carrollton Post Office.

I was on the hunt for Christmas stamps — or as I told myself “postage both socially and United States Postal Service-carrier acceptable.” Eye of the needle meet burlap twine.

But in this season of miracles, I accepted the mission. If Isaiah can get lamb and wolf together, if Mary can get a newborn asleep in a barnyard, if Blake Gillikin can be the Saints MVP, I can find some postage.

Clawing my way up from the sixth spot in line (editor’s note: after entertaining himself on Twitter during the approximate five-minute wait), I approached the first teller with my humble request. She had heard it all before. “No. I’m sorry. We’re all out. We do have Lunar New Year.”

Hmm…Pretty sure the postal carrier would have no trouble with those, but are they seasonally acceptable? Would the cards ever be sent? Would I then need to commit to late-January New Year’s messages to ever get them out of the house? The agony!

“I’m sorry. I don’t think that’s going to work for my purpose.” Then, from her kindness, a twinkle shone in the eye of the teller. “You can get some at Costco.”

The United States Postal Service has less access to postage stamps than Costco Super Store? Was this public-private partnership announced between sports and the weather? I really should watch the news.

Little did she know, I was no ordinary patron. “I actually checked there last night,” I relayed. “They’re out.”

As I completed my Post Office labyrinth and moved to new-found freedom in the lobby, I heard ring out, “Costco’s out of Christmas stamps, y’all!”

I emerged a supply chain shortage believer.

Or, really, knowing that you need to get stamps a little earlier.

With the current Christmas stamp shortage and a complete scarcity of front doors, how can a gift-giver even make it through the season? I have a few suggestions.

 

Go handmade.

I was not an artsy child. I still remember fondly my self-made First Communion banner, a channeling of something between High Impressionism and Jackson Pollock. Needless to say, the only tutoring I ever received was for penmanship. (May Sister Joseph Francis Glavan be enjoying her eternal reward for that.)

So with the handwriting of a doctor and the salary of…something less than that, how can I fake the Martha Stewart in me? Plants can be nice, as long as they don’t scream funereal. (Save that for jokes, not gifts.) Get a Dollar Tree vase, her favorite Winn-Dixie flower, and clip a little greenery and, voila, you have personalized $5 gift — depending on Dollar Tree’s current rate of inflation.

If you did not serve as a flower apprentice for ten years (Mary and Joseph’s bouquets don’t make themselves, people), maybe you know your way around a computer. One year, some basic graphic design produced a present for my brother, dad, and grandfather: a poster of their game recaps when all three shared the same LSU press box. The victory made for a better story, and the present makes for a good garage floor piece, from what I’ve observed.

Ooooh, or design a card with a childhood photo on it. Slip in a favorite gift card. Perfect present. If, of course, the childhood stuff is happy memories. Have I ever told you about my First Communion banner…

 

Stick local.

Let’s be honest: we like to consider ourselves the northern-most part of the Caribbean, but we’re really the western-most part of France (or the eastern-most part of North Korea?). We’re in love with ourselves. So find something that’s already going on, tie a bow around it, and put it under the tree. My go-to: scroll through the calendar events at the Saenger, Tipitina’s, and the Prytania. There will be something unique for someone on your list.

 

Make an experience.

While tickets to a show sound like an experience, I like to broaden the category. Two recent examples. My niece supposedly wants to be a firefighter. Why? “So I can put out fires.” Gotta get her on a couple of my text threads.

Everybody knows a firefighter — or has a wife who knows one. Don’t tell my niece, but we’ve got a holiday visit scheduled. To be followed by chicken tenders and macaroni and whatever else qualifies for a four-year-old feast.

For my dad’s birthday last month, I almost turned an experience into a free gift. Once I lifted his insurance card.

As faithful blog readers know, my dad is a nightly white noise machine, steadily backfiring each sleepy breath. To my surprise, he sounded interested in getting a sleep study. To my even greater surprise, a clinic would let me book one for him. HIPAA, Medical Power of Attorney…again, who’s to say what they mean?

When his primary balked at my getting a surprise referral for my dad to make a surprise appointment for my dad (on the grounds that it’s better to meet with a sleep doc first, not because of all that legal mumbo jumbo), I had to pivot quickly.

Thankfully, Amazon delivered the present in under twenty-four hours.

Draw your own supply chain conclusions. Happy gift hunting!

 

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At some point growing up, our family acquired a New Orleans Christmas cd, quickly establishing itself as the December standard. Even more than the 12 Yats, the stand-out track was a gospel selection giving the date of Jesus’ birthday. I listen now chuckling that scholars would prefer to argue over a winter or spring birth (there were sheep in the fields!), unable to appreciate the bigger meaning at play. Enjoy the Staple Singers’s rendition.

 

 

 

Categories: Pulpit to the Pew