A Hallmark of the Season The Sixth Holiday Mental Moment

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.  vintage Christmas Card

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.

Christmas postcard date unknown, circa 1900.

Christmas postcard date unknown, circa 1900. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Vintage Christmas cards

Vintage Christmas cards

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…

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17 responses to “A Hallmark of the Season The Sixth Holiday Mental Moment

  1. I’m still old fashioned and send out cards to special people. My list is no longer long, I can’t afford all the stamps that would take, but I have my door decorated with cards from loved ones. This year I am behind, and they’ll get there late, but traditionally can be displayed up until the first, or longer should you wish. Merry Christmas, Lizzie!

    • I am on it every year with cards… in my head. Usually the intent and desire to do them is there, one year i designed and printed my own, but what happens is what always happens and time gets away from me and although it would be ok to send them out after, I am usually in the slump of that was it? Its over ? I get seasonal blues so common with bipolar disorder, have always had that, and I tell myself next year.. to cheer up a little.. Merry Christmas Gail :-)

  2. I have gotten precisely one Christmas card this year. I have come to realize the majority of those who otherwise send cards stopped when I turned off my mail service two years ago, and everything was returned undeliverable (wicked grin).

    I have not sent cards in a long time, but I do write them and hand them to the recipients. I place the ones for the children on one of their presents. I try to remember to send one to the Hallmark Queen, uh, my mother, who still does three to five days worth of sending them to everyone she has ever met.

    My address book is larger now than ever, even though I have given up the book and pencil method in favor of my BlackBerry. I am guessing when my Cmas present arrives on Cmas Eve, it will get a large upgrade when I move to the tablet.

    I still know about 50 ppl who the only time they mail anything non-bill-related is Cmas cards. <3
    xxx

    • I have gotten one too – one more than I got the last three years.. but wow yours is in the mail…so now you are telling me it will be returned undeliverable? well darn it all! :-) 3- 5 days is what my mom and dad do too, in fact my mom just said to me about 10 mins ago ” Your daddy and i MUST get the cards done TOMORROW..” I am rooting for them! I might have to chip in ..we will see ..I am more like my grandma with a bunch of different books, several purchased because the were pretty and added a few addresses and never got any farther. When I was married I kept track with the book with the Christmas card list in the bakc and you can check off the years you sent them but I lost it in the big move which is pretty much the reason I haven;t dont them for a few years… Next year I think I wil have to order them from Zazzle.. early..like August o wait I wouldn;t be ablr to find them by November – ummm October..yea.. <3

  3. Gotta love the cat greeting. I know technology has moved us on, but at this time of the year, I still like the old-fashioned Christmas Card with a personalized message. Oh well … such is life in nostalgia because I the number of cards decreases every year, and personalized is even fewer.

    Nonetheless, I do appreciate blog posts with greetings!!!!

    • I knew there were a few cat lovers out here…and honestly I could have sat all day and watched all the animated type greetings they have – I had a super idea at the last minute but not enough time – I guess last minute kind of implied that huh? ;-) I may use it later tho so,.. The card I got this year is the only one I have received in three years and if I hadn’t then I might have only had the same fleeting – I wish and I remember,, then forgot but I thought more about it and it is almost turning into Christmas Past Mental Moments, but thats ok too… its on my bucket list actually lol. And I appreciate your visiting commenting :-)

  4. I still send out cards, but have switched from card, letter & photo to the photo cards. They tell the story just as well as my letter ;-) We love receiving photo cards, too!

    • When my parents first moved here,my,mom would paper the cupboards and there was no room left. I always think its onlu been a few years..its been 13 .. & this year there are three . I had a big flat basket some, years and others we hung them on the door frame..

  5. I still send Christmas cards as it was always part of our tradition but alas our children do not do so…I save all cards received in a basket and keep them till next year and then re-look at them again and read the notes written in them…before I write the next years’ cards…Diane

    • I used to save mine too..in fact I have them in the box with some of my decorations. Some were too pretty to toss..then I thought it wouldbe.fun to make a collage but I just loved to look through them..

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