Wearing a festive red hat, United States Postal Service mail carrier Julia Ralston completes her winding route with a smile.
Walking the North Bottoms neighborhood Saturday afternoon, Ralston said little things such as wearing a seasonal hat can help add fun to working at Christmas time, when the volume of packages and mail skyrockets.
"It has been a little bit crazy recently," she said. "There are a lot more packages, and we had the rough weather earlier on."
Weather is a factor every mail carrier must adjust to, especially those working on walking routes, such as Ralston, who said snow and ice can cause falls on the job.
Ralston said she walks several miles each day to deliver mail, no matter the conditions.
"It can make a long day even longer," Ralston said of the snowy days she had to deal with earlier this month. "People sometimes won't scoop their sidewalks and you can slip and fall easily."
That wasn't an issue Saturday, though, as she made her normal route from the North Bottoms to the Haymarket under sunny skies, with temperatures in the mid-40s.
For Ralston, the challenge of delivering all the extra packages during the holidays, snow or shine, is one of the most rewarding parts of her job, along with building relationships with the residents whose homes she delivers to frequently.
"I have a few regulars that will come and chat with me," she said. "It makes it much more personal. That's the rewarding part of the job."