The long tradition of sending Christmas cards began in the late 19th century in Great Britain. When I was growing up a card was sent to everyone who touched your life—the postman, the neighbors, co-workers, family and friends.
My mother loved going to the Hallmark™ Card Shop. She’d spend an appreciable amount of time searching for just the right boxes of cards—usually ones that epitomized the piety of the season.
I cherish the tradition too. Long, long ago I joined mom on one her trips to the card shop and bought a little red Christmas Card List book. In it you could record the recipient’s name and address and there was even a place to note the year the card was sent and whether they had sent one in return. It was considered rude to not oblige the tradition. Even if I didn’t get a card from someone I’d still send one to them the next year. Waiting to receive a card before reciprocating takes the joy out of the exchange.
Updating the list can be sad if someone has passed away, moved, gotten divorced or are no longer in your life. If you’re lucky though, you’ve been able to add new friends to your card list.
Christmas cards may be an extra chore to some during December. Is it worth nearly 50 cents to say “Merry Christmas” when you can post a “Happy Holidays” message on Facebook or send an e-card and call the job done?
I say it is. It lets them know you were thinking about them. A young friend’s mother who died recently found a ginormous box stored underneath her mother’s bed. When she opened it she found every Christmas card, Mother’s Day card and birthday day she’d ever received.
The Chicago Tribune published a heart-warming story of little 8-year-old Safyre Terry who was found by firefighters still clutched in the arms of her dying father who had shielded her with his body from the flames that killed him and her three younger siblings in their apartment in Schenectady, NY.
When Safyre told her aunt she wanted to fill up the little Christmas tree she’d bought her at a discount store with Christmas cards, a family friend posted her request to Facebook where it went viral almost instantly.
Maureen Marion, the USPS PR representative for the Schenectady Post Office, told HLN in February of this year, "We have received 1.7 million letters and 25,000 packages for her so far. That’s about 325-350 letters daily and 25 to 30 packages daily."
Maybe part of keeping Christ in Christmas is about warming the hearts of friends and family with real Christmas cards that reflect our love for them.