Arts, Crafts and Creations, Happy Holidays

Bringing Back Tradition: the Christmas Card

Who doesn’t get a little bit excited when they open the mailbox to find a handful of stiff, hand addressed envelopes in white, red, or holiday green? With mail from January to November being almost exclusively made up of machine generated bills and junk advertisements, finding a hand addressed envelope is rare. When December mail brings us those special pieces, we immediately recognize them for what they are.

Christmas cards.

Christmas cards were more popular when I was a kid. We would fill up a string or two that dad attached to the dining room wall in under two weeks and have to find other ways and places to display the overflow cards that came in during Christmas week. We stood them up on top of the radio. We stood them on the window sill. They served as a holiday decoration, as important to our decorating scheme as the cardboard die cut of Santa that was taped to the front door or the construction paper chains that we made in school. As kids we sorted and rearranged and prominently displayed the cards that featured Santa’s smiling face or a flying reindeer or even a winter church scene. To the more obscure corners we stuck those “sophisticated” greeting cards, the “artistic” or “minimalist” cards that were a solid (boring) color– a pencil drawing of a winter scene or perhaps embossed with the word PEACE or JOY.  Card giving has dwindled over the years. We receive fewer cards than we did once upon a time, but for those we do still receive, we send an extra wish for Santa to reward those caring souls that still take the time to write and mail Christmas cards.

I didn’t set out to make greeting cards. It was one of those things that just sort of happened and then it evolved. I made a few with “found” artwork from the internet but immediately realized I couldn’t use it if I were going to sell my cards on Etsy. I began drawing my own Christmas card scenes that could be reproduced in various sizes and which wouldn’t infringe on anyone else’s intellectual property rights. One card led to another. They were fun to create and something I could work on at night in front of the TV. Soon, I was creating cards left and right. The joy I have creating my cards mimics the thrill I feel whenever I pull one of those hand addressed envelopes from the mailbox.

If you don’t usually send cards why not start a new tradition this year? Sorry but e-cards don’t count. If I can’t tape your card to my fridge or display it on the dining room window sill well, what’s the point? Yes, I know stamps are pricey these days. But so are all of the other things we spend money on including movies, books, new winter coats, ugly Christmas sweaters, and lunches at McDonalds. Compared to what you’ll spend on video games or the hot toy of the season, stamps are a drop in the bucket. Buy the stamps.

If you do send cards, expand your card list. Add an elderly neighbor or someone who is new in the area. Send cards to soldiers you may know who are serving overseas or a “thank you” card to your child’s teacher.Whether you make your own cards, purchase handmade cards (mine please!) from Etsy or buy a box of mass produced cards off the drugstore shelf, know that the time you spend addressing those cards and the dollars you spend on first class postage stamps are recognized and appreciated by your recipients.  Let’s make each December trip to the mailbox an adventure for one another. Send Christmas cards!

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