Relative’s Christmas gift arrives - finally

By Tammy Keith Published December 25, 2011 at 12:40 a.m.
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— Mary Beth Mauldin has had her faith in Santa - and the Greenbrier post office - renewed this Christmas.

On Dec. 16, Mauldin’s mother in Florida received last year’s Christmas gift - one year and six days after Mauldin mailed it.

“I didn’t mail an expensive gift. I mailed a family memory, and I have just been tore up that it didn’t get there,” Mauldin said.

She lives in the Fairview community between Greenbrier and Quitman,and her mother lives in Vero Beach, Fla., where Mauldin grew up.

Mauldin said last year’s gift, mailed from the Greenbrier post office on Dec. 10, was a flannel nightgown for her mother, Mary Lou Shelton, and a gift card for her stepfather, Wally Shelton. Both gifts were from J.C. Penney in Conway.

“It was a special nightgown for two reasons. As children, one of us always gave mother a long flannel nightgown for Christmas,” Mauldin said. “And, it had little redbirds all over it, and redbirds are kind of a family thing. We used to watch them out my grandmother’s window ; it’s just something we always loved. My grandmother loved them; my mother loved them. I’m just nuts over them.

“I walked up on this nightgown, and I thought, ‘Oh, mother.’”

Snail mail is one thing, but months dragged on, and Shelton still hadn’t received her daughter’s gift.

Mauldin said she went back to the Conway store, but there were no more redbird nightgowns.

“I finally broke down in June and told her what I sent,” Mauldin said, laughing.

When the package didn’t arrive, Mauldin said she assumed it was the fault of the Greenbrier post office, even though she’d seen the clerk take the box to the “out” bin.

Then, Mauldin’s mother called Dec. 16 to thank her for this year’s Christmas present.

“She said, ‘You won’t believe what I got in the mail. I thought you were just sending gift cards.’

“I said, ‘Mother, I’m just sitting down at the dining room table to mail your gift card,’” Mauldin said.

“She looked at [the package] and did a double take when she looked at the stamp on it and saw Dec. 10, 2010,” Mauldin said. “All I could do at that point is say, ‘No, no.’

“I’ve stupidly been mad at the Greenbrier post office. They’re really nice people.”

The problem was likely in Florida, Mauldin said.

“I’m pretty sure, because the Winter Beach post office box that it was mailed to - they have closed that little post office, and they just cleaned it out, and all of a sudden it shows up in my mother’s new [street] address in Vero Beach,” Mauldin said.

“We think it sat in the little tiny Winter Beach post office all year and maybe got laid to the side,” she said.

Mauldin said her mother called a newspaper in Vero Beach, and the story has made the rounds.

The post office in Florida has apologized, Mauldin said, and is going to write “some sort of letter, and mother is going to take that and the box, and hopes [J.C. Penney makes] my stepfather’s gift card good.”

Mauldin said her family has laughed and laughed over the surprise.

“To think, right at Christmas - Hello, Santa!”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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