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A season of smiles

Employees spread cheer during busiest time

The Post Office in Nazareth, MI, has been offering a holiday pictorial postmark since 1899, and Postmaster Terri Sootsman carries on the tradition of adding the special cancellation when customers ask for it.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and for USPS, the busiest.

Employees across the nation are delivering holiday cards, letters and packages as peak season draws to a close.

As of Dec. 21, the Postal Service had delivered more than 10 billion letters and packages since Nov. 24, according to the organization’s running tally. USPS delivered 12 billion mailpieces last peak season and expects to meet or exceed that this year.

The organization is “built for the holidays,” as this year’s ad campaign states, and not just in terms of logistics. Post Offices around the country send cheer around the globe in the form of those small works of art known as pictorial postmarks.

The Post Office in Nazareth, MI, has produced a special holiday pictorial postmark for more than 100 years. The town was founded in 1899 by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and four of its six postmasters have been nuns.

“We are proud of our long tradition in Nazareth,” said Terri Sootsman, the town’s current postmaster. “Cancellations have been requested from all around the United States and countries all over the world. We even notice repeat customers year after year.”

This year’s postmark from the “Christmas Star Station” features three twinkling stars.

Rudolph, OH, is known as “the deerest little village of Wood County.” The “Reindeer Station” was inspired to create its own holiday postmark tradition in 1993.

Retail Associate Charlotte Lamb expects the Post Office will have canceled around 80,000 cards with this year’s design — a tiny reindeer with a shiny nose.

“I love this time of year,” Lamb said. “I enjoy talking to people who come in from driving a long way to get their cards stamped.”

Stories of postal employees going above and beyond are a holiday mainstay, and this year was no different.

In Oxford, ME, Lisa Haley wraps and gives gifts to customers old and young.

“It brings joy to my heart,” the retail associate told the local newspaper. “No matter the age of the people who come in, it’s about seeing them smile.”

“It’s hard for me to explain how much joy I get here,” she said. “It just melts my heart.”