Life in Our Foothills – December 2023 – It’s Not Christmas Without the Cards!

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The holiday season begins when we pull our first joyful Christmas card from the mailbox. It can be from a nearby neighbor or from an old friend who now lives miles away. Opening the envelope to reveal a colorful, sentimental greeting, we’re suddenly humming Christmas carols and digging out our cookie recipes. Christmas isn’t Christmas without the cards. I’m on a mission to bring back Christmas cards.

Sending Christmas cards, like many old-timey customs, is beginning to fade away. I remember in the fifties, the post office added a second delivery in December to accommodate all the cards being sent. Now, the Christmas card display at the local Hallmark store is dwindling each year. Mailboxes hold only one or two cards a day here and there. Every fall, I hear someone say, “I’m not sending Christmas cards this year.” There are probably many excuses cropping up to convince people that Christmas cards are dated and no longer a tradition. But I’m still a Christmas card sender. Fall arrives and I start browsing catalogs and store shelves for a card whose message, colors, and design are reflective of my thoughts and events of the past year.  When I sign my name, lick the envelope seal, and add the latest Christmas stamp, I’m letting the recipient know that I was thinking about them, remembering good times. 

I also admit to being a Christmas card saver. Every January I gather up my cards, tucking them in a box for some unknown future use that never really arrives. Digging out old cards presents a reflection of societal norms and customs of different eras and times. Some years angels seem to be popular. One of the best-selling Hallmark cards is vintage 1977, designed by Ruth Morehead, and titled “Three Little Angels.” The card depicts two charming angels and a third mischievous angel with a drooping halo. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Over the River and Through the Woods” winter scenes crop up at times suggesting an old-fashioned Christmas. In the fifties, when people often moved to accommodate their careers, “From Our House To Your House” was a greeting accompanying a picture of two houses. Other cards in the fifties pictured modern-styled houses, fin-tailed cars, and often a wood-sided jeep. “Peace on Earth” has always been a hopeful message, especially during the sixties and seventies Vietnam War years. Cardinals make an appearance at Christmas, their bright red plumage matching the holiday colors. Some cards have religious sentiment, and there’s always Santa Claus.

In the 2000s, charming snowmen resided on popular cards. Other favorites are cats, kittens and puppies. Trees and wreaths sparkle with glitter that spills out when you open the envelope. Photo cards, easily produced by companies on the computer, are a popular method to share family scenes with friends across the miles and update children’s growth spurts.

What to do with all these holiday greetings? Add a festive flare to the Christmas decor in your home. Greenery placed along a banister, shelf or mantle will become a card display, using clip clothespins, colored paper clips or other fasteners. Clip your cards along the greenery, creating color among the sprigs. Use a colorful ribbon draped across and down the woodwork around a door. Secure it with tape or tiny, thin nails. Staple cards along the ribbon, showing off the colorful scenes. 

For a simple display, fill a decorative bowl or basket on the coffee table with cards as you receive them. If you receive an exceptionally artistic card, purchase a holiday frame at one of the dollar stores or thrift shops. Place the card in the frame, and set it on a table or hang it on a wall. Plan to have it on display during future Christmas times.

Let me tell you about a craft project that both children and adults can enjoy. Christmas cards make useful, fun holiday placemats. Visit Amazon or your local craft shop and purchase red, green, or white 11 x 14-inch poster boards. You will need one or two rolls of 13.5 inch x 5 feet “Clear Cover Con-Tact,” and a glue stick. 

Select several attractive Christmas cards and cut off the front or a picture from the card. It’s fun to group cards according to the theme. Maybe have all cat cards together, or all Santa cards together. Arrange pictures on the poster board, using a small amount of glue on the back of the card to secure in place. Roll out a piece of Con-tact about two to four inches longer than the 14 inch length of the placemat. Carefully secure the Con-tact over the front of your board, leaving 1-2 inches each on the top and bottom. Fold the ends over to the back of the board. The poster board will be 11 inches wide and the Con-tact is about 13 inches. Fold the side edges to the back and secure. 

You have just created holiday placemats. My sister and I discovered this idea many years ago at a craft sale. Each Christmas when I set the table with these holiday mats, I remember the time we spent having fun together, going through our cards, deciding which ones to use, and finishing our project. Years later, it was time to add to my collection, working with my daughter.

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children (100 St. Jude’s St., Boulder City, NV, 89005) accepts the fronts of your recycled cards, except for Hallmark, American Greetings and Disney, which they are unable to accept due to copyright laws. They continue to revamp their recycled card program in an effort to provide teens with life and work skills. St Jude’s Ranch is not associated with St Jude’s Hospital.

Also, check with your local school. Some schools accept fronts of cards for craft projects, like making bookmarks. After Christmas, make your own bookmarks and include them in cards to friends the next year as a small gift. Take to your local book club at holiday time and pass out to other readers.

Are you ready to search the card racks for your favorite cards, gather mailing addresses and visit the post office for Christmas stamps? Let’s celebrate all the wonderful possibilities and warm feelings we create when we drop some cards in the big blue box at the local post office. Merry Christmas!