It's hard to believe, but we're approaching another holiday season. I know we're not even at Halloween yet, but the artificial Christmas trees and decorations are already for sale at Walmart, so don't blame me.

Over the past couple of years, there has been an increase in holiday shipping that was, at times, overwhelming for the United States Postal Service. We have never shipped more packages in our nation's history than we are shipping right now. Between gifts purchased online from Amazon, Walmart and Target, with the additional shipping of regular items via the online giants, a logjam has formed in the shipping industry.

The United States Postal Services looks like it is trying to get ahead of the issue by releasing the deadlines for shipping packages to different parts of the country.

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Three dates affect most of us.

If you are looking to ship something from a store directly to a loved one or if you are sending something in first-class mail, a greeting card or a package up to 16 ounces, then Dec. 17 is the deadline to have it arrive before Christmas Eve.

For those of us who miss that deadline, there are two final options. First, you can ship via Priority Mail service. Dec. 19 is the deadline.  If you miss that deadline, your last option is to send it out with Priority Mail Express Service.

The Postal Service warns that these shipping dates are not guaranteed, but are estimated delivery dates for Christmas Day.

Packages being sent to Alaska and Hawaii and to our servicemen and servicewomen will need more time to arrive.

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