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The holiday season is quickly approaching, as are the deadlines to mail those holiday cards and packages.

Whether mailing from Europe or from downrange, deadlines for reaching all destinations by Christmas are:

Nov. 13 for surface mail (mail going by truck or ship).Nov. 27 for space-available mail.Dec. 4 for parcel airlift mail.Dec. 11 for priority mail and first-class letter and cards.Dec. 18 for express mail.“These deadlines apply to everyone,” said Yvonne Radloff, command postal training manager for the 2nd Air Postal Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

No matter where mail is sent, either to the U.S. or downrange, Radloff said that it will usually get to its destination within 10 days.

“We’ve got flights going out everyday,” she said. “I mailed a package to Iraq last Tuesday and it got there on Friday.”

All downrange locations have the same mailing services as European locations, except express mail, which is not offered.

The maximum weight allowed for any parcel shipped through the military postal system is 70 pounds and must not have more girth than 130 inches, but each mail category has its own limits.

For example, mail sent on a space-available basis can’t be more than 15 pounds and 60 inches in length and girth combined, according to the Web site.

She said the mail volume going through the Military Postal Service Agency starts increasing around September.

According to Radloff, last year around a million and a half pounds of incoming mail went through the MPSA in Germany for October and November, while just under a million pounds of outgoing mail was shipped off.

In December, over 2 million pounds of incoming mail went through the MPSA, while just over a million pounds of outgoing mail was sent.

“With the exchange rate and limited choice of merchandise (in the post exchanges/base exchanges), people start early to order from catalogs, that’s why the incoming mail volume is higher than the outgoing,” Radloff said.

She said that during the holiday season especially, a variety of objects pass through the military postal system on their way downrange.

“We see all kinds of things being mailed, from small refrigerators to microwaves,” she said. “People send just about everything but a kitchen sink.”

Radloff encourages people to write either their address or the mailing address on all items inside the package to prevent objects from getting split up and lost.

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