Greeting cards seem to be one of my passions. I have a program on my computer so all year long I can send birthday cards and thinking of you cards to friends and family, and even monthly “holiday” cards to my grandchildren. I can’t explain it, but it gives me pleasure to create and personalize each one. And, of course, at Christmas, while I buy the boxed cards—since I send so many, I still find myself making personal ones for my children, their families and a few others.
The tradition of sending cards has been around a long time. It is said, the Ancient Chinese sent messages on New Years and it is believed early Egyptians, using papyrus scrolls, also sent greetings to the special people in their life. In the early 1400’s, personally designed greeting card exchanges became fashionable in Europe while woodcut greetings were created and shared in Germany. It wasn’t until 1856, however, when deluxe editions of Christmas cards became the rage. Since then, with some lulls in the process, the industry has emerged and morphed into card availability for all seasons and reasons!
I suppose I am a sentimentalist, but there is something rewarding about sending a card to someone who least expects it. I remember years ago when a family I hardly knew experienced an awful tragedy. I mourned for this family for weeks and finally because I could no longer contain my own grief, sent them a card. It wasn’t anything particularly special, but it let them know I shared their sadness and offered nothing more than a “virtual” smile and hug. A week or so later, I also received a surprise card, which said nothing more than “Thank you….I needed that!” It’s interesting how that kind of thing happens, often when we need it most.
Christmas cards, however, are completely different. We are celebrating a great event. Everyone (well mostly) shares in the excitement and joy of the season. People invest hours searching for just the right gift, wrapping it and sometimes even decorating it. Hours are spent decorating homes and just about anything else stationary with lights and some people will even create an object in lights if necessary! Music plays and there is this general festive mood which you can’t recreate any other time of year. So when I sit down to choose just the right card, sign, address and stamp my Christmas cards to friends and family, it’s an extension of the feeling of joy I want everyone to share.
There are those who refuse to join in the tradition of cards, considering it unnecessary and time consuming. And yes, it is time consuming. But if you look at it as a gift, rather than drudgery it becomes a labor of love. Love is what Christmas is, isn’t it? So when we celebrate the Christ Child, we celebrate love. And when we share the celebration in a card, we demonstrate that celebration of love.
So I challenge you this season, as Christmas creeps ever closer, when you open the Christmas card from the sender, consider the time, energy ….and love, they are sending. As you send your card, sign each with a smile and a hug in your heart. It’s Christmas! Celebrate!