Stores and the United States Postal Service advertise that it is important to allow enough time to get your packages delivered in time for Christmas and they give a suggestion for when to mail your presents.

If, however, the address contains the letters FPO (Fleet Post Office) and the person receiving the gift is on a ship at sea, all bets are off as to when your package will arrive. Those ships do not receive mail every day and it can take anywhere from one to three weeks to get a package delivered to them.
Planning ahead is important.

Then there is the question of what to send. If you want to send chocolates and the ship might be near the equator where it is really hot, then pack those chocolates in a Ziploc bag. If they melt they won’t cover everything in chocolate and when they reform into a new shape they are still edible. I have heard that the center of a Cadbury Easter egg crystallizes after it melts, but it still tastes good.

But what else can you send? At the recent Cheers dinner sponsored by Naperville Responds for Veterans, guest speaker Dr. Bose told how three-ply toilet paper is a really good gift to receive if you are in Iraq. If you get more than you need, you can trade it for a lot of merchandise on the “Swap Market.”

If you are at sea and you run out of personal items like bar soap, you can try to buy more at the ship’s store. But if the ship’s store is out of stock, then you can only hope that the next care package will contain that essential. The Christmas wish list is so different for someone deployed rather than someone stationed stateside.

Then there are the people who are deployed on submarines. No one – not the mailman nor Santa Claus – is supposed to find them. They can only hope that someone gave a package to be stored in a special place. And then half way through their deployment they will receive that little package as they celebrate the countdown to coming home. I note “little package” because of space constraints on a submarine.