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The Well-Traveled Sweet Holiday Treat
Marg-Ins 02.01.23

January is over?

Yes, that’s a question, although it could just as easily be a statement.

We literally just got through Christmas and now the first month of 2023 is history.


Actually, our family Christmases always seem to last far in to January, by the time we have made connections with all the various family members. I have gotten much better at making sure my boxes get in the mail to New York with plenty of time to get there. With the winter storms that were sweeping the country in mid-December, I kept track of where the boxes were and they arrived right when the estimate said they would.

On the other hand, my dad sent me a box of homemade popcorn balls – always a welcome treat – but they ended up logging about 9,000 miles and got here around New Year’s. That, even though he sent them out a couple of days before I put his box in the mail. He sent them to my workplace, but he used the old Post Office Box we vacated many years ago when we switched to having mail delivered to the street address.

And, as fate would have it, the regular mail delivery person was not on the day the box got to the post office and the other carrier apparently didn’t make the connection of the newspaper name and so did not deliver it to our office. Instead, it got the ‘Moved, not at this address’ treatment and was sent back on its journey eastward. My dad had given me the tracking number so I could see where the box was and I was excited that it was ‘available for pick-up’ until I saw that it was in New York, not California. It took a while to figure out what happened but the problem became clear when I learned that the PO Box was used. So I quickly got on the phone with my dad and said when he sent the box back, he would need to use the street address. He had been at the post office that day and said he didn’t get the box.

Well, in yet another turn, my brother had gone into the post office earlier in the day and – since they live in a very small, rural town – the post office clerk told my brother the package my dad sent out had come back. To which my brother said it was a Christmas box so return it to California.

Which they did, with the same PO Box as the address.

Luckily, our regular mail person had been made aware of this entire saga, including the fact that the box was on its way back but with the wrong address yet again. And thankfully, he was working the day it arrived the second time around and made sure it got to me.

The popcorn balls took about two-and-a-half weeks and 9,000 miles to get here. They still had pretty good flavor and were definitely gooey; they were always a favorite treat that my dad would make for the holidays.

I vividly remember our kitchen table piled high with freshly popped popcorn, a huge mound that my dad would pop up before adding in the other ingredients to coat the popcorn and create the sweet treat.

Nothing said the holidays around our house quite like those popcorn balls and the nut-and-fruit-filled potica pastry my grandmother (my dad’s mom) always made. My cousin and sister-in-law have taken over making the potica each year; my dad is still the popcorn ball king.

So, I finally got to enjoy those well-traveled popcorn balls and delivered the last of the family gifts just a couple of Saturdays ago. I still had some items for my nephew, niece-in-law and their three youngsters and we were able to connect for the exchange.

Only about a month behind schedule – or 11 months early, depending on how you want to look at it.


Marg Jackson is editor of The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 209-847-3021.