Saturday, December 04, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 4: Christmas Cards

(Originally written in December 2007)

Christmas Cards

Did your family send them? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards?

During the last four weeks, I've been going through the letters my mom wrote her parents in Western Michigan from Alaska during the years 1966 - 1978, and have just started 1977. There are many December letters tucked inside Christmas cards during those years, although I don't specifically remember Mom sitting down with a stack of them to sign and mail off. It may be that she purchased just a few to mail to family and friends, or perhaps she was able to buy them by the box. I do know from what she wrote in those letters that it was hard to buy holiday cards of any kind in Southeast Alaska. My mother's greeting to her parents on Easter or Mother's or Father's Day, for instance, usually consisted of the weekly letter with best wishes for the family member(s) and an explanation that no store on the island sold greeting cards.

Once we moved to Eastern Washington in 1979, I do remember our family sending off greeting cards. Sometimes Dad would get a neighbor to take a nice group photo of our family with his camera and get some Christmas photo cards printed up. We would dress up for these photos, most of the time. Mom would tuck newsy notes or letters in with both the greeting cards and the photo cards.

I think cards were taped along the beams of our house in Alaska, which had a cathedral ceiling, but I'm not sure if I'm remembering that correctly. In our home in Eastern Washington, the cards were always--and still are--taped around the doorway and pass-through between the dining area and kitchen.

After my husband and I married, I started sending out Christmas cards to friends and family members, and after our children were born, I added photos and a Christmas letter. I haven't done a Christmas letter every year, but I did most years. They're fun to go back and read, because I always hit the highlights of the past 12 months. The past few years, with postage so expensive and with most people in my e-mail address book having color printers, I've just e-mailed my Christmas letter and scanned photos of our family, while mailing "hard copies" to family and friends without Internet access. This year has been so busy that I am probably going to forgo the cards altogether and just mail and e-mail the Christmas letters. I figure at the rate I'm going, people are going to be lucky to even hear from us!

The cards we receive are placed in a green Christmas wooden basket on our coffee table in the living room. After Christmas is over, I go through and save the photos and Christmas letters. Most of the cards, unless unique or extra special, get their covers reused as gift tags for next year's Christmas, or passed on to non-profit organizations that recycle them.

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.


Greta Koehl said...

I like the idea of reusing part of the cards. Probably the main thing keeping me writing Christmas letters is the fact that I can now go back and remember what we did, year by year.

Miriam Robbins said...

I agree, Greta. I need to make sure to preserve these somehow, so that they are available for my descendants.