The U.S. Postal Service expects that today will be the busiest mailing day of the year, and in preparation opened four San Francisco post offices on Sunday -- but there were still plenty of people lined up this morning.
Olive Loew, 35, of San Francisco, was in line at 9 a.m. at the post office at Fox Plaza on San Francisco's Market Street, waiting to send about a dozen gifts to family and friends.
The Virginia native, who now lives in San Francisco, usually mails two or three gifts during the holiday season but increased her number this year, sending out samples from a small biscotti business she is starting.
Another woman, a regular at the Fox Plaza post office, arrived at that post office at 9 a.m. with just one gift to send, having sent most of her gifts and cards over the past couple of weeks.
Sending out gifts gradually ensures that most will get there on time, said the woman, who declined to give her name.
"It's better to have two gifts show up on time than 20 gifts show up late," she said.
The woman, who said she has used the Fox Plaza post office regularly for 30 years, described the atmosphere there as calm this morning but said that isn't always the case, with customers becoming irate at times.
More than 801 million cards, letters and packages are expected to be processed nationwide today, according to the U.S. Postal Service.