As we buy Christmas gifts and cards for our loved ones and friends, I ask that you spare a thought for the army of postmen and women who deliver them.
I recently popped into North Tyneside Delivery Office to thank them for their hard work during Royal Mail’s busiest period and to see the scale of the operation for myself.
Managers are buoyed up by it being Royal Mail’s 500th anniversary, and they are pulling out all the stops to make sure that no one is disappointed.
But you can help them to help yourself.
They stress that the last recommended posting date for second class deliveries is Tuesday, December 20.
First class is Wednesday, December 21, and Special Delivery is Thursday, December 22.
They also suggest some simple points to make sure your card or special gift reaches its destination.
Always use a postcode and put your return address on the back of the envelope.
And wrap the parcels well so they don’t disintegrate in the system.
You could also consider Special Delivery for important packages and parcels. This means that your gift is tracked, traced and insured against loss.
My only political point is to mention that we have maintained the universal postal obligation, which means that everyone is served by the Royal Mail, wherever they live.
In other countries you have to collect your mail.
And may I wish you all a very merry Christmas with your family and friends, and a happy new year too.