Did you ever think about how many steps it takes for our presents to arrive under the tree and our holiday meals to make it to our tables?
Did you know that the average mail carrier gets in 15,000 steps a day? Many even double that. Some of those steps are quite literally steps. Up and down to mailboxes and letter slots. On top of that, they are carrying letters and packages and making sure everything ends up in the right place — dealing with all kinds of weather — as well as four-leggeds (not just dogs). Cats can be very predatory about what comes in or out of their letter slots. Mail carriers soon learn to watch out for the claws that greet them when dropping mail!
Fedex, UPS and Amazon carriers have it a bit easier. They average a “mere” four to five miles of walking a day! But it’s not just the carriers who do a lot of walking. Mail clerks walk at least 10,000 steps a day just sorting parcels in their warehouse facilities. Other warehouse workers sometimes walk even more. Amazon’s warehouses, which are notoriously large, often require their workers to walk 30,000 or more steps a day to do their jobs.
The upside of all this, of course, is fitness. One mail carrier noted that he lost twenty pounds after taking the job. But eventually, he gained it back in leg muscle. In fact, this is why many mail carriers wear shorts on as many days as possible. The pants don’t have enough room!
All this to make sure that we have our presents under the tree. . .(And back in the day when we shopped in person, retail workers averaged over 14,000 steps a day working the floor.) So this year, when you’re opening your gifts, remember how many steps it took to get them there!
And what about the food for your holiday meals? Well, farmers and pickers also average over 14,000 steps a day. And if we were still eating our holiday meals in restaurants, we would be served by wait staff who average 23,000 steps a day!
Then, of course, there’s Santa Claus. who has to climb in and out of each chimney, despite his hefty girth and unwieldy outfit. Much like our UPS and Fedex carriers, he does have transportation to the roof, however. But did you know that it was not always a sleigh?
The original St. Nicholas supposedly traveled on the back of a donkey. It was not until the nineteenth century that a sled or sleigh was first mentioned. Created by Clement Clarke Moore, this mischievous and plump elf with red clothes and a long white beard arrives with reindeer pulling his sled. At least that’s how it happens in most Nordic countries — except the Netherlands, where Santa Claus comes from Spain in a boat loaded with presents. Australians claim Santa surfs.
Now that we live in a world where we expect instant gratification, it doesn’t seem quite so extraordinary that Santa and his reindeer and the elves and Mrs. Clause get it all done in one very long night! But let’s not lose sight of all the people who make our holidays possible — from warehouse workers to package carriers to farmers. This is their busiest season — so let’s celebrate them and all the steps they take to make other people’s holidays so special!