Photo by Highland Magazine on Unsplash
While digging through treasures in the attic of my childhood home, my sister unearthed a poem.
My father’s best friend wrote it. They grew up together and stayed in touch their entire lives. In it, he expresses his love for every name that appears on his Christmas list and that the people on it are not just names, but memories he holds dear.
I understand his sentiment. I too, send cards every year for the same reason. I remember those who have held a place in my life, maybe years ago and for a brief period of time, but those names and memories are precious.
When remembered, those names and times we shared lighten my day.
My cards are custom ordered. I pick out one or two pictures, that include my cats, a significant event over the past year, and in one instance, pictures of the previous year’s Yankee Swap gift that made the rounds well after Christmas.
They made everyone laugh.
This year was no different. Many people told me that they were not sending cards this year and not bother sending them one if I hadn’t done so already.
But I already had.
Though I enjoy receiving Christmas cards, I don’t send them with the expectation of receiving one in return.
I take pleasure in writing a brief message, and to let people know that, even though we haven’t been in touch, I remember them.
I remember that was laughed, cried, ate, and drank together. That they were important and I have not forgotten.
Life happens. We drift apart.
Those people and the times we shared are no less dear because we don't communicate regularly.
I hold those periods of my life close. Time has not diminished them.
The History of Christmas Cards
Like most things, Christmas cards were invented. Thank goodness they were. I can’t imagine a Christmas without them!
King James I of England, aka King James VI of Scotland, received the first so-called “Christmas greeting” in 1611. It was in the form of a folded, ornamental manuscript with a Christmas and New Year’s message.
In 1843, Sir Henry Cole, an A-lister in Victorian England, brain-stormed for a way to respond to the piles of Christmas greetings accumulating on his desk. To not acknowledge them would have been considered not only rude, but scandalous.
Times have definitely changed.
Cole had an idea for a card and asked a friend, J.C Horsley, to design it and include a generic greeting. Horsley printed the design on a stiff piece of cardboard, similar to postcards. Thus, the first Christmas card was born.
The first Christmas card appeared in the United States in 1840, but like Cole’s, they had to be ordered, and this made them too expensive for many people.
Louis Prang, a Russian immigrant with a print shop, is credited with mass-producing Christmas cards in 1875, ushering in the advent of the affordable, modern-day Christmas card.
It is now an industry.
The Spirit of Giving
The true spirit of giving means you give for the love of giving, expecting nothing in return. The gift is in the giving, and in this case, it is a card.
It’s the gift of letting someone know that you keep them and the times you spent together in your heart, a remembrance of sorts.
Writing Christmas cards helps us reflect, remember what was what, and consider what will be.
This year, when we are restricted socially, it is a wonderful way to send someone a remembrance, and in doing so, a memory—a memory of the past and a new one for the present.
It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you’ve contacted someone; it’s Christmas.
And anything can happen!