What a (Christmas) Card!

(In the spirit of disclosure, I admit that my husband works for a greeting card company.It’s embarrassing, really, with my confession  about the last several years.)

I just sent out the very few Christmas cards that I will send this year…I sent out probably just as few last year, and the year before. There were a number of years in there where I sent out none.

This is so far from the days when I was young and every Christian we knew sent and received Christmas cards, and we also heard from friends of other faiths at the same time. Cards came in from relatives close and distant, from neighbors past and present. Many of these people we only heard from in this manner, once a year. They were known as “Christmas-card people” or “Christmas-card friends.”

Cards came in droves from former co-workers and people that one didn’t know but who worked for the same company; the companies would ‘mimeograph’ lists of workers and their addresses just so people could send each other cards. So many cards came from so many people that when I was young, we would have two mail deliveries the last few weeks before Christmas. My mother sent out quite a number of good-quality cards. My father was not a man to spend much money, but he always let my mother buy expensive Christmas trees and  Christmas cards.The cards had to have truly beautiful  pictures and be made of high-quality paper. And she bought a great number of stamps; it was money that we probably should have put to better use, but it made everyone happy.

When I was very young, there were two classes of mail as it related to letters. First Class were your standard correspondence with the envelopes sealed; they needed a 3–cent stamp. Second Class mail was the same only the back flap was folded-in, not sealed, and you could get away with using a 2-cent stamp. When I was still young, the rates went up to 3 cents for the second class and 5-cents for first, and believe me, back then, it was quite a jump, especially with the vast amount of cards that went out. My mother would spend the extra money to seal most of the cards to show respect, but some she tucked-in, also to show respect. The tucked ones were only sent to the people she knew could not afford much, and she did not want to let her sealed envelopes and her extra cent,(or two), stamps make them feel bad or look as if we were flaunting our money. (Frankly, we had nothing to flaunt. Our cards belied our means.)

It would seem rather strange to send Christmas cards to those whom I see or hear from nearly every day online or to relatives and friend with whom I often speak. Gone are the days when you seldom wrote and never called most absent folk. I recently spoke with a young adult who had no idea that telephone calls, especially long-distance calls, had been so few and far between with most people.

The calls were very expensive and sometimes, one party did not have a phone, so to wait for the person called to be tracked-down and gotten to the phone wasted a great deal of money. Calling ‘person-to-person’ alleviated that, because the caller was not billed until or unless the other party took the call. It was so expensive that often when people traveled, they would call home to a relative or friend and make a person-to-person call to themselves, just to let it be known that they had arrived safely, and yet, not be charged for the call. All that seems like a very long time ago, but it wasn’t.

But the more I think about it, it wouldn’t be so strange. In fact, it would be fun to go back to seeing the different stamps come in with their different holiday address labels on the different cards. Each person has a unique personality and their taste is/was reflected in their cards, be they religious, cute, homey, funny or downright irreverent. It is still fun for me to pick out cards that reflect my taste and the people to whom I would sent each card. Granted, I cannot send cards to every “Friend” and “Friend of Friend” on Facebook, I have just decided that I will make a concerted effort not just to call, email, text and message all of my family and friends next year, but to make a real effort to get a number of Christmas cards into people’s hands….unless the postal rates get me.

What about you? Do you send Christmas cards? What do you remember about Christmas cards when you were young?

About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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13 Responses to What a (Christmas) Card!

  1. I send far fewer cards than I used to due to the postage costs, and I’m afraid I’ve stopped sending to people I haven’t seen for years who just sign their card with their names but no proper message. I may still think of them fondly but if I’m never going to see them again and they put no news in whatsoever, what’s the point? Just a line or two about the past year or what everyone’s up to would make the difference!
    At work, I choose to put a message on a charity poster and donate to the charity instead of writing 40-odd cards … and then feel guilty as half my colleagues give me cards anyway because that’s their preference!

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  2. jeff7salter says:

    I certainly remember “person-to-person” calls… as well as COLLECT calls.
    Yeah, for several years, I was diligent about sending out cards. After Christmas each year, I’d prowl the stores for half-price card sets … and usually got some really spectacular cards for moderate prices.
    My list was never as expansive as yours seems to have been. As I recall, at its peak, I’d send out about 75 cards. Some would include brief notes, especially if it was someone we saw rarely or only communicated with at Christmas.
    In the past several years, however, I just dropped it altogether. With all the contacts I have on Facebook, I figure I’ve already communicated with the folks I would have sent cards to.
    Some of them send me cards, and those are greatly appreciated. But I can’t seem to rouse myself to send any/many back.

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    • I have to admit that Facebook has been wonderful for me, making new friends and connecting with relatives and old friends. I can’t imagine sending cards to those with whom I am in continual contact.
      After holiday sales! I am a recovering addict! Don’t get me restarted, Jeff!

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      • jeff7salter says:

        I just don’t have the stomach for shopping anymore. people seem so desperate… it truly depresses me. What little shopping I do these days is mostly on-line.

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      • I meant the clearance aisles afterward, Jeff…long afterward.I warned people in my Food,Friends,Family blog not to fall into the trap I did…too many holiday-themed serving dishes.Standard ones that can be used year ’round are the way to go. (But I do have some of the cutest things!!!)

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  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I still send out Christmas cards to about 30 people. Most are to family and friends I don’t see very often. My relatives in Japan get the most colorful and fancy, since the cards I get from them are fabulous. I just haven’t been able to let go of that tradition, and my relatively new hobby of making greeting cards only fueled that habit! Hubby never complains about the postage or the cost of making the cards – probably because it comes out of my own budget.
    I do remember calls and postage being an extravagance. Mom was allowed to call her family once every other month, and she limited herself to ten minutes. Now with Skype and FaceTime she can talk to her heart’s content! Letters, long ago, were limited to what she could squeeze on an aerogramme – those long blue sheets that were prepaid, and you folded the letter up and sealed the sides so it made its own envelope. Now with email she can say as much as she likes! Communication is definitely something that technology has made easier and better for her.

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    • It must have been so hard for people who left their homelands before we had all the instant and cheap communication.I know even when I moved here three years before my mother and family joined us that we ran up awful phone bills…and that was just between Colorado and Kentucky.
      I remember aerograms well! And ‘onionskin’ paper for airmail, especially for overseas.
      I am glad for your mother.
      I’d LOVE to see your handmade cards, Patty!

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  4. i do not do Christmas cards , we do hand out candy canes to people at church. I really should do Christmas cards to family that I never see. I love writing letters and I do write to some friends who moved to Texas because so much more can be conveyed in a letter than online or even in a phone call that is constantly being interrupted by children.

    I remember getting cards and them being taped up by the door when I was little so that we could look at them. My daughter tapes cards up on her wall on the rare occasion that we get a card.

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    • I remember cards strung everywhere, Angie.Now, our few are standing on our china cabinet!
      I forgot to mention the dreaded “Christmas Letters”…maybe next year.
      I will encourage you to write to your friends, though. My calls are being interrupted by The Next Generation…grandkids!

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  5. Theresa says:

    I love Christmas cards! I love getting them and sending them. I used to hand write a note or full letter to everyone on my list but I was young then and single. I still hand sign my cards though, and for those who aren’t up on our activities I do include a brief (note: BRIEF!) Christmas letter, just to catch everyone up. I do refer to a lot of these people as my Christmas card friends! FB has taken some of them off the list. They’re already in the know about what’s up with us. Also I have stopped sending to people who never ever send anything back. I tried for a while but just won’t do it anymore. Sadly, I lost one of my favorite Christmas card friends this year. She was on FB but we always did the cards and wrote something anyway. I miss hearing from her.

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    • I am sorry for your loss, Theresa.I lost one of the best friends I ever had,(though we never actually met face-to-face), several years ago right at this time of year.I still miss her. The only way to do these lost friends honor is to be friends to others.
      Notes and keeping-up are the right things to add, as just a signature seems so impersonal.What I dread seeing are the long, bragging letters that some people feel the need to send.
      I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic 2015!

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