I was at the local Post Office this week with my neighbour, Leesa. The 'local' Post Office is approx. 40km from my door step. But nonetheless, we were in there, picking up mail. Actually, Leesa was waiting for a swimsuit to arrive. The same swimsuit I had recently purchased, and several other women in the district were also purchasing, based on my solid recommendation. The best swimsuit ever. That's beside the point. When you are on to a good thing out here, you want to share it with everyone you come into contact with. We are all in the same (isolated) boat. We all know what it's like NOT to know what's out there. So when I came across this swimsuit, I told everyone about it. And this summer, if we all meet at the same beach at the same time, we will be one coordinated ensemble!!! So anyway, we were in at the Post Office. Leesa asked the 'post office lady'(Rae) if there was a package in there for her. There wasn't. But there WAS one for me. A short conversation followed:
Leesa: Jess - you always have packages! Rae, does Jess receive the most packages in this district through the mail?
Rae: Pretty much! Her and Jacqui... they both always have something in the mail.
Jess: In my defense, I spend all year buying gifts for Christmas, birthdays, and that's how I do most of my other shopping too.
I feel like I need to justify myself.
We normally get mail delivered (twice a week). Tuesday and Friday are invariably the best days of the week. We get a stack of mail, and if there aren't many with 'windows' on the envelopes (usually bills), then the catalogues, actual hand written mail (snail mail, just like the old days) and packages are great fun to receive. I am buying 'gifts' all year round, and by July I usually have my Christmas shopping completed, and have already started buying gifts for the following year. I love Ebay. Sometimes I wonder how on Earth people ever survived out here (in terms of buying gifts) before the internet was invented. You must have had to have been super organised with gifts, and bought them on your once annual trip to the big smoke, or super clever and been able to make gifts yourself. Because goodness knows that if I had to buy gifts solely from out here, no one would ever get anything. There's only so many Dirran frog "stubbie coolers", "fridge magnets" and postcards a person can use. And even though there ARE lovely little gift items to be found, I would hardly call any of them 'personalised'.
Some of the best packages I have received in the mail (or most exciting) have been:
1. The girls' Quad Bike (we are giving it to them at Christmas). It was a huge box that clogged up extra space at the post office for weeks until we could be bothered driving in to town to collect it. It seems the post office delivery person isn't keen on carrying a box of that magnitude (if it were indeed at all possible for one person to do alone), and then definitely not comfortable leaving it out on the road for us to collect whenever we could be bothered.
2. My iPhone. A much smaller package that has revolutionised my life.
3. And any package from Yvonne in Holland. Invariably it contains a bottle of Pisang Ambon (an alcohol you can't purchase in Australia, but I gained a taste for during my time in Europe).
The other thing about mail out here, is that I get a lot of 'thank you' letters and cards. It seems like common courtesy, but it's honestly something I never really thought of until I moved out here. If I host any kind of 'party' at my house, I usually receive at least one 'thank you' card out of it. (Obviously not from friends I see every other day, or speak to on a semi-regular basis). This week I received a card in the mail from CP's Aunt, who was wishing me a happy belated birthday, and just wanted to pass on general news and good wishes. I frequently receive one from CP's granny when we have visited her or had her here. Admittedly, neither of those people are on facebook. Which also serves a purpose. But it is only since I moved out to the farm that I stated sending thank you letters of this nature, myself.
So this is how it goes in my neck of the woods...
I use facebook for day to day contact with friends and family. I leave small messages there, which has cut back a lot of my telephone contact with people. It's probably also affected my ability to sustain lengthy conversations with people on the telephone, however I still cherish those times when I do speak to people face to face or for a 'proper catch up' over the phone.
I send thank you cards whenever and wherever is appropriate. Thank you for the lovely lunch/party/get together. Congratulations for organising a fantastic function. Happy Birthday. Thank you for the lovely gift. You name it, I have it covered.
I send packages to people overseas, and to friends and family on the coast as they need it. Baby gifts, books, photos. Whatever.
I shop online FREQUENTLY. There is a chance I'm compulsive, but if you consider that I probably only enter a 'real' shopping centre 4 times a year, I justify the purchases that I make online. I use Ebay for the majority of my purchases, but also a handful of 'regular' online shops for other things. I am a firm believer that anything you can buy in real life, you can get online cheaper. And I truly get the same buzz from online shopping as I do from shopping in real life. I used to LOVE real life shopping (and I still do), but considering that I have children with me 99% of the time, online shopping is far more practical. I have located a few 'tried and true' internet clothes stores, and I buy many of my clothes online these days too.
So there you have the justification. But having said that I need to now tell you the truth.
Sometimes I drive out (3 km) to the mail box before my in laws can get to it first. Sometimes I want to get to the number of packages I KNOW will be waiting before anyone can count and roll their eyes about it. Sometimes I don't want people to make their own assumptions about what I'm buying, because they probably don't understand why I do it. Sometimes I just know I've been naughty, and bought something I don't want anyone to know about. But honestly, mostly the things I buy aren't even for me. They are for people I love. If I didn't buy them, heaven knows CP wouldn't. And only one person (aside from me) REALLY knows the truth about my purchases anyway. And that's Rae, the Post Office lady. But I don't think she's going to say anything anyway.