Christmas cards – sending them and receiving them – used to be a major part of the season. Everyone sent cards to everyone – we exchanged cards with our minister, doctor, grocer, teachers, neighbors, friends and woe to the person who forgot an aunt or distant cousin when making out the cards.
My sister and I liked to buy the dime-store boxes of cards in which every piece was different. Then, we could match them up to the recipient – a funny snowman for a cousin, an English village scene for an aunt and uncle, a religious card for Grandma.
All personal cards were signed by hand, most with a short message, and addressed by hand. There was usually a TB sticker on the back of the envelope to show the sender had bought a page of stickers to fight tuberculosis.
Envelopes, stamps and stickers had to be licked, a job the kids usually got to do.
A lot of cards were mailed and a lot of cards were received. They were opened quickly and taped in a prominent place in the living room – surrounding the mantel or maybe attached to a velvet ribbon that traveled around a door jamb. Visitors were likely to look through the cards, admire the designs and take note of the senders.
Things have changed a lot. We still send cards but very selectively. So many of the people who used to be so interested in the annual Christmas greetings are gone now and the younger people like to send e-mails or say, “Merry Christmas” on their blogs. I receive 10 cards or so each Christmas now and don’t need a length of velvet to display them. This Christmas, I was inspired by a card-holder wall hanging I saw in a quilt shop. I made one to fit my mini-quilt rack – it’s basically a wall hanging with a pocket attached. It’s plenty big enough to hold my cards which are still treasured and admired just as they were 50 years ago.
The vintage cards are from my personal collection. The bank card and TB seal are from the 1920s, the other cards are from the 1940s.