Today I got the strangest thing. Something I rarely see anymore much less receive.
A sign of simpler times and Christmas when I was young .. er. Younger.
I’m not old, just older but sometimes in a moment of contemplative reflection, if I think about all the things that have changed and been invented and the fact that some of the things that came along during my lifetime have also been abandoned for newer things, how everything has changed and evolved and gotten so big and shiny, I do feel old.
Ok no just older but the point is, the one I started out with anyways, what I received today.
A card, in the mail. Snail mail, formerly known as the Pony Express. With a stamp, in an envelope and everything, and when I opened, it was signed with a real pen by the sender’s hand.
Well yeah I know right?
It got me thinking about how things have changed so much since I was a little girl with technology moving at lightening speeds and how much simpler times were back then.
But were they really and did technological advances make the old traditions obsolete, or did we just get lazy and complacent, forgetting the meaning and feeling behind something as simple as a Christmas card, in the mail.
Today’s Holiday Mental Moment…
is as they often are, just an observation followed by a question. And it is about traditional Christmas cards.
Part of getting ready for Christmas when I was a little girl included picking out a box of cards that my mom would then spend days addressing and writing in, stamping licking then taking to the post office to be mailed out.
It also included checking the mail each day beginning around the end of November to see what our family had received in the way of holiday greetings and from whom. There were favorites every year that we would wait on, and there werethe few every year that my mom and dad would rack their brains trying to figure out who the person was because I guess last time they saw them, the senders were in diapers and now they were grown and sending cards and thought enough of us to send one to us, letting us know that even though it had been years, they thought of us.
My mom. my grandma, everyone I knew practically, has an address book that had addresses written in pencil and extra pages stuffed in and if you did not have the right address for someone, they would not get their card and think you forgot, or be lost to you for good. My grandma was almost fanatical about keeping her address book up to date up until right before she died.
The fact that her memory problems and insistence on taking care of these things herself had her with at least three different versions, and it was a crap shoot for those of us that moved around a lot whether she would use the right version or our address from 5 year ago. Her “current one” that she used before she died, listed my address as Tacoma WA. It has been at least 15 years. And she knew and was related to a bazillion people, even the great organizers in the family who tried to consolidate books and weed out the bad addresses were stumped.
It seemed to me like the point was to start with your family addresses and build your list as you made more friends and received cards from others who were then added to the address book and properly greeted postaly the following year.
Well the point was an archaic version of what Facebook is today. Take your friends on FB and write each one of their addresses and phone numbers anniversaries, birthdays and kids and spouses name. in a book and when they move do it again crossing out the old address. Now I’d like to see how quick you would be to build a list of 468 friends and keep track of them. You definitely had to be more than someone’s friend of a friend, although there were plenty of people who only got a card once a year and that is it.
As it was, I am sure my grandparents’ was about that long, my mother’s quite a task too and it was an event every year to pick the prettiest cards and get through the list with a huge feeling of goodwill when the last stamp was licked. Yea we had to lick them back then. Some years my mom would buy two different types of cards and then if some were left over, it would be worrisome that one of the recipients would get the same card again. That was not proper. I had an eye for them or something because I usually spotted the recycles that we got.
A card in the mail was the equivalent of a gift from the sender, and my mom would display them in various places over the years as they came in. We would pic out our favorites.
When I was around 12 yo I seceded from the family Christmas card and began sending my own. I started my address book in the fall and had a pretty good amount of names on it over the next few years. I sat and diligently practiced my greeting then signing my name.
The exchange of Christmas cards has been a tradition for many years but it really took off and became the thing to do after the English started commercially printing them in 1843. The first card made by John Horsley interestingly enough had flowers and daisies and was a three panel card where the first two panels folded.
The years gone by have seen the photo cards become popular, then with computers and printers the form letter. Those always make me laugh. I try really hard not to but I can’t help it and I must give credit to all those who have made one and managed to keep the entire families news down to less than 2 pages, double spaced even. My mom did it last year. Her and Dad My brother and SIL , all 8 grandkids and my grandma, all in less than 500 words. It’s always fun to see what warranted mentioning
She still doesn them every year, and my dad helps. Willingly. I haven;t sent out cards in years and my kids don’t have any idea what a card really means. In fact they are quite content with putting up a Facebook status or Tweet wishing all in their tight circle of 469 a happy holiday. There are of course ecards now and I can’t say bad things because they are perfect for someone like me to still send a nice thoughtful greeting even though I totally spaced and / or procrastinated sending cards until the 23rd. At least I know they will get there, and the recipient none the wiser.. oops.
If you think, not too hard I’ll bet there are other traditions that have gone by the wayside or have changed enough to make you wonder if technology has made celebrating, spending time with our loved ones and spreading peace and goodwill among men easier, or banal. After all, you can send a tweet status or ecard any day and people do everyday, but you can only go out and buy a box of cards, hand write them and lick them and stamp them enjoying an aftertaste of glue. and receive extra special mail that can be displayed during the holidays… you could do it any time of year really but my point being - it’s a chore, a labor of love,
On the other hand, you can’t get this kind of greeting through the mail.
May we be blessed with plenty of love, by mail or Facebook, Twitter or Google, however else it comes this year.
To Your Mental State, whatever it may be…
- Do You Still Send Christmas Cards? 5 Reasons You Should (947thewave.cbslocal.com)
- Hallmark Christmas Cards: Check Out The New Interactive Cards! (mommyofamonster.com)
- Free Christmas Card Mailing Service (tinyprints.com)
- In the spirit of Christmas… (jkfacee.wordpress.com)
- Cardstore.com: 70% Off Holiday Cards (Last Day for Guaranteed Christmas Delivery) (hip2save.com)
- Time Saving Tip for the Holidays: A Personal Assistant for “Regular” Women (chatonsworld.blogspot.com)
- Hallmark Holiday Card Pack :: Review & Giveaway! (iloveyoumorethancarrots.com)