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Most of you sent out holiday cards and presents to their overseas destinations weeks or maybe even a month ago. Having done the overseas holiday experience three years in a row, I remember the early mailing deadlines and one particular postal worker who insisted I cover every seam on my packages with tape.

I don’t think that was really necessary nor do I have any suspicion he was getting kickbacks from the Scotch tape company. I think the young Marine was just having fun at my expense. Surely, working at a post office during the holiday season must be a drag.

Now, when a friend tells me it took her 15 minutes to get through the tape on a package I sent, I think back to the insistent young man and smile.

I developed another odd habit besides overusing packing tape while living on Okinawa in the mid-1990s. I still buy and mail most Christmas presents way ahead of time, even the ones I could hand-deliver.

For example, the week after Thanksgiving, I mailed a box of gifts to my parents. They received it two days later and called to ask which presents they could open early.

My parents, brother, sisters and in-laws are used to my odd early buying and mailing behavior, as I have mailed rather than hand- carried most of their gifts since our first Christmas back in the United States in 1996.

I can think of only two situations in which I don’t mail presents to friends and family who live out of town. The first is if they are coming to visit us over the holidays. The second is if a gift is too heavy to justify paying all that postage, and we’re going to visit them.

But if the presents are fairly lightweight, the U.S. Postal Service delivers them, even if we make it to the same destination before the gifts are opened.

I’ll tell you the real reason I continue to follow my own set of early-mailing deadlines: Once the presents are bought, wrapped and in the mail, any “work” on my part is done.

I can sit back, relax and take a moment to picture the excitement on the person’s face when she opens her door and sees the package.

Another reason I can relax is that once presents have made it out of my closet and into someone else’s home, they are no longer susceptible to the paws of Glory.

She will open and sample anything that smells interesting. If the gift doesn’t meet her expectations, Glory casts it aside and moves on to another one.

Most family members are used to my odd mailing habits after all these years. Those who still need an explanation will be told whatever I manage to come up with at the time, such as, “We mailed your gifts so Glory would have room to move around in the Suburban.”

However, there is only so much I can blame on my beloved dog. The truth is, my early mailing, tape-covering habits are here for life and make their appearance throughout the year as well.

My nieces will more than likely get their birthday presents three or four weeks early. After all these years, they would call to check on me if nothing had arrived by the week before.

It would be nice if my own interpretation of early mailing deadlines has expanded to include Christmas cards, but it hasn’t.

I will admit to another little habit I blame on the seam-covering Marine: Sometimes, I put the return-address label over the flap on the back of an envelope … just to make sure it stays closed.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 16 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at or find the Zichs online at


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