In this fast paced, hurry up and get it done kind of world we live in, you can do just about anything without having to acknowledge another human being. Humor me, if you will, as I demonstrate a typical scenario:
You get in your car, drive to the gas station, and swipe your card at the very friendly pump that blinks “Thank you” at the completion of your transaction. Now you’re off to the bank, where you opt for the drive up ATM instead of going inside to the counter because the teller just might take too long chatting about her new grandbaby, and you must get to the store.
Inside the grocery store, you grab some milk, a loaf of bread and, of course, a chocolate bar for lunch (you’ll need it for energy to keep up). You head to the self check out, bag your own groceries, and feed your money to the cash acceptor.
On the way to your car, you dig in the bottom of your purse for change and grab a soda from the machine to go with your “lunch.” Now it’s off to the library, but when you look down at your watch you realize the kids will be getting home from school soon and you have to get them to soccer practice tonight. No problem, you can skip the library and do your research on your computer via the internet instead.
Does this sound familiar? Surely I’m not the only one that has to be reminded to slow down.
Some may feel that we have advanced well. But sometimes I wonder if that’s correct. What happened to the personal touch that we used to get? Gone are the days of someone pumping our gas at the gas station or putting our groceries in the trunk for us. Is that really a good thing? I’m not sure our economy agrees, because it seems to me we’ve become so smart that we don’t have a need for workers anymore. But that’s another subject.
I bring all of this up because I would like to tell you about a place where you can still find that “personal touch”. It’s a little town called Bethlehem, where we apply the Bethlehem postmark and Christmas cachet by hand to the greeting cards that come in the post office this time of year. It is a very personal touch that was started back in 1947 by Mrs. Anna Laura Peyton, who was the postmaster at the time. She noticed that folks were coming from out of town to have their cards postmarked with “Bethlehem” and came up with the idea of adding a Christmas cachet to the cards in addition to the postmark. The rubber stamp of the three wisemen following the star to Bethlehem was created and the cachet was applied in red ink. There was no extra charge; Mrs. Peyton only asked that folks purchase their Christmas stamps from the Bethlehem post office in exchange for her service. I’m proud to say we do it much the same way 61 years later.
Some people don’t understand why folks make such a fuss every year to come get the Bethlehem postmark and cachet applied to their cards. But once you’ve tried it, you’ll likely be back. You may come to Bethlehem the first time thinking you’re doing something a little extra special for those that are near and dear to you, but usually you’ll end up returning when you find how wonderful it is to slow down and visit a place where life isn’t so busy.
I’d like you to experience Bethlehem for yourself, so let me offer this new scenario for you this season:
Hop in your car one brisk morning. Stop by the bank, go in and say good morning to Mary and ask to see a picture of her granddaughter, she’ll be glad you did. While at the gas station, grab a pack of nuts for energy and a bottle of water, and when you pay for your gas tell the attendant to have a nice day too.
Head to the grocery store and grab your milk and bread. Also, check out the Christmas cards; take time to find just the right ones to express what Christmas means to you. As you head for the checkout, pass the self service line, the lady at the third cash register needs to be reassured that her services are needed and her job is secure. As you relax for that brief moment while someone else is bagging your groceries, ask the lady at the checkout how her day is going and wish the bagger a Merry Christmas. They’ll be surprised because most folks that come through their line are too busy talking on the cell phone to acknowledge them.
Head to the library and pick up that book of recipes you were looking at last time, and grab the one about traditions; it will come in handy when you have your family over for a fabulous old time Holiday dinner. While the Librarian is checking you out, compliment her outfit, she’s proud of her new sweater but no one else has noticed.
Head home in time to greet your children when they come in from school, offer them a snack and ask how their day was before you head off to soccer practice.
While at soccer practice, don’t forget to ask Katie’s mom how her husband’s job search is going, she probably needs to know someone cares. After you tuck the kids into bed tonight, you can address those cards you picked up at the store, the recipients will be glad you thought of them when they check their mail in a couple of days.
Fix a couple of mugs of hot chocolate and sit down for a little quiet time with your husband before you go to bed. Don’t stay up too late though, because tomorrow is Saturday and you and your family are going to that great little town you heard about called Bethlehem. When you get there, don’t be surprised when you are asked if you would like to sit down and have something to drink after your drive through the country.
Take them up on their offer because they really do want to get to know you! Sit back, enjoy a refreshment and watch as Susan and Donna are busy applying that much loved postmark and cachet that has drawn so many to the quiet little town of Bethlehem.
For more information call the Bethlehem Post Office during business hours at (502) 845-0207. Monday – Saturday, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. Extended Holiday Hours December 6 -20 until 2:30 pm, closed Sundays. Note: If you are unable to make it during business hours you may mail your cards to the Bethlehem Post Office at Attn: Postmaster, 3946 Bethlehem Rd., Bethlehem KY 40007-9998. Enclose a check for postage ($0.42 x qty.) if stamps are needed.