My Gran’s the type that sends birthday cards two weeks early – even if you live just down the road from her. It’s how she’s always been, you learn to expect it. For Christmas cards, she pushes the envelope (no pun intended, I think) a little further. Those you’ll expect to receive a good 2 months in advance. It’s not uncommon to get those at the end of October and of course, by the time Christmas actually rolls around, you’ve forgotten where you’ve stashed it.
If you may all recall, my birthday is in the first week of December. The end of November came and went with no card materialising from Gran. The days were whittling away, and still no card. I remember laughing and remarking to my Mum that that was the first time in my entire life that Gran’s card hadn’t arrived before anyone else’s. You see, it’s a running joke in my family that my Gran has to be first for anything: first in the bathroom in the morning if she’s visiting anyone, first to meet my husband, first to meet great-grand kids – you get the idea.
I held out for that card for a few weeks, telling myself that the post is slower here in Montana and that it would show up. It did, afterall, contain $50 inside that she’d exchanged over there for me so I wouldn’t have to.
I was already spending it in my mind.
The days past slowly, every day walking to the (locked) community mailboxes hoping to see something from my Gran, and every day being that little more disappointed.
One day, during a conversation with my wee brother he remarked, (not unlike the tone Happy Gilmore heard when he was told to “send the ball home, it’s bags are packed…”) “Let it go Siobhan…it’s gone. Hold a service for it, because it’s never coming back.”
I love him. Really.
Last Saturday evening, I got a letter from my Gran, which was a welcome surprise because I’ve been worrying about her. It was postmarked the 24th February and took the normal 7 days to get here. I opened it to reveal $50.
“Wow, my Gran sent me another $50!”
“She loves you, Siobhan”, said Bryan delicately.
I began reading the letter and paused when I got to this part:
“How are you keeping Siobhan? I hope everything is going smoothly and no hiccups. You haven’t so long now till the birth. To me the time has flown by.
“Once Christmas is over…”
I flicked the paper over fast and read the date she’d put under her address “21st Nov 2006“.
“Oh my gosh Bryan, this is the same $50, it finally got here!”
But that didn’t explain why it took so long to get postmarked. Well, maybe the letter got stuck behind a table somewhere in a post office in the U.K. and somebody found it. My adrenalin was pumping and I blurted out, “What time is it? I need to phone my Mum and let her know it came…2 a.m. there? She’s probably still up.”
So after talking to my Mum about it, I found out what really happened.
My birthday card, letter and $50 DID make it to the U.S. afterall, only, my Gran had written the ZIP code wrong, adding an extra digit: 598928. (It’s happened since then too, and I’m a little confused as to why everything else made it here okay.) So they rejected it. My Gran rarely makes a point of adding a return address to envelopes and packages and so some postal worker somewhere here opened up the card, saw her address on the letter and forwarded it all back to her (stamping unknown ZIP code on a new envelope), with the $50 included.
Everything was going well with it heading back to her, except the postman delivered it to the wrong high rise flat but the right house number, and so the woman living above my mother’s place got it, instead of my Gran. So she (“Kim”, apparently) promptly gave it to my Mum and Mum surprised my Gran with the news. THEN, my Gran wrote another letter, added it to the original and sent it off to me again, including the $50 and discarding the birthday card.
She also made sure to write the proper ZIP code.
The letter and envelope sits pride of place in my kitchen, a small reminder that there are honest people left in the world. And of course, I’ve already devised new plans with what to do with the $50 again, 3 months later.