SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With Christmas just a few weeks away, you may already be sending out family cards and presents. In this week’s Flashback Friday, we take you back to 1977 to see how the post office handled all those holiday gifts.

If you feel rushed by the Christmas holiday, you’re probably not half as busy as the U.S. Post Office. The combination of the heavy mail load and the unpredictable weather make the post office’s work more difficult during Christmas than at any other time of the year. And this Christmas season, people seemed to have mailed later.

“We had increases this week of about 30% over last year. Prior to that it was way down. We’re sitting now at about a 3% increase in volume for the total Christmas period. Which means we’ll handle probably about 16 million and a half pieces of mail during the Christmas rush.”

Not all your mail goes through by hand anymore. This machine is capable of moving 43,200 pieces of mail every hour. The letters go past the operators at a rate of one every second. But some of the mail just won’t go through the machines because of size or weight. So it has to be sorted by hand. The postmaster says those that work sorting by hand are just about as fast as the machine, but the mail has to be handled more times to get where it’s going. What happened this year that people just didn’t get their cards out on time?

“There are two things that contributed to it this year we feel. One: Christmas came on Sunday. A lot of people thought Sunday is next week, we still have a lot of time to mail. And secondly, this year the postal service didn’t designate early mailing dates for local mail. Apparently thinking that people waited until those dates. I think this had some influence on people just didn’t get excited about Christmas for awhile.”

Now he says everything is ready for Christmas. The mail has slacked of considerably from what it was. And even though some post office people had to work overtime this week to do it, your Christmas cards will probably get where they’re going, if you mail them on time.

Nancy Sutton, reporting for KELOLAND News.