Christmas at the Post Office

FTLComm - Tisdale -Saturday, December 7, 2002
It is interesting how something so much a part of our lives has changed both in what it does and what it represents. Today the Post Office is where we trudge grudgingly to pick up a daily stack of unwanted advertising and even more unwanted collection of bills. It seems that the function of the post office has changed so much that it is almost a bit of punishment we incur each day.

But this was not always the case. Before e-mail, the web, and courier service, the post office was the focal point of every community no matter how small. Pen pals, relatives near and far, kept in touch with one another through a regular exchange of letters and cards. Every visit to the post office was a reward of some kind, as things came to you and you took things that were important to be sent off.

When it came to Christmas time, only a decade ago, the Post Office was still the centre of the world. The tradition of sending and receiving Christmas cards, which has declined enormously in recent years, was essential to every Christmas. It was not uncommon for a family to mail and receive up to a two hundred Christmas cards.

One of the most important roles of the post office in the past was the link it provided with the two major retailers in the country, both no longer are in business today. The Timothy Eaton company and Robert W. Simpson were responsible for Christmas shopping in rural Saskatchewan. Their Christmas catalogues were the most important books in the house, often pretty well worn out by December,r as children dreamed of the treasures on its pages and parents relied upon those catalogues for the special things that would be the focus of Christmas morning, or in some families Christmas eve.

When the parcels came to the post office, it was your duty as the guy who got the mail, to shake and squeeze each parcel wondering just want that brown paper concealed and proudly take the treasure home where mother would whisk it off to a hidden place for opening.
But times have indeed changed and so has the market place. The post office is now the source for coin collections, stamp collector albums, Canada Post piggy banks and special collector stamps.

It is remarkable how many things the post office of today sells and how delightful many of these items truly are. We have long known that stamp collecting is a lifelong hobby that widens the awareness and perspective of the child who begins and keeps up a stamp collection. For many people can trace their choice of career to the things they discovered as child stamp collectors.

Snow piled up on the roads and fields in 1956 so that in the tiny hamlet of Vandura the only connection we had with the outside world after November that year until spring was the CN rail line. There were no trips to Wawota, Moosomin or Kipling for shopping. No Christmas I can remember relied so heavily upon the wonder of Mr. Simons the post master and his connection with the world beyond the snow drifts. Cards and letters, orders to Simpson Sears and Eaton's, secret parcels and a week before Christmas mom left on the train to go and stay in Kipling as the newest member to our family was due to show up any day.

But once a day I went to the post office and Mr. Simons handed over a letter from Mom, Christmas cards from aunts and I would march these treasures home along the narrow snow path to our house.

Though there were other wonders that very odd Christmas, the post office was the link with the rest of the world for Vandura was definitely tiny, three shiny new street lights were all that lit the town and we had only installed electricity in our house in late fall, when shortly after father brought home a refrigerator pulled on a push car behind the jigger all the way from Kipling.

But I was hardly alone, the fifteen or so other kids in the one room school all thought of the post office as something special and one girl whom I adored was the star of the school, not only did she drive a cutter to school each day, she let me help her hitch it up to her horse and I would ride on the back, standing on a runner to the edge of the hamlet, but her uncle was the Post Master.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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