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.
Each year, I try to come up with an original card to send to select friends and family members. This year, my inspiration was a vintage card that we had found in an antique store. The original had a 1930-40s era graphic of county fair scenes and I remembered some pen & ink sketches I had made from photographs taken at the 1992 Hamilton County Fair (Ohio). I scanned my sketches of some kids with sheep and a ferris wheel, the Agricultural Building, some ponies, and a horse barn that my father had used for his harness horses dating back to the early 1950s.
I found some beige card stock that closely matched the original and ordered blue ribbons with the imprint, Have a Blue Ribbon Year. I filled in the name of the recipient in the “Awarded to” section and on the left inside of the card there was room for a personal holiday greeting. Since I only needed cards for 11 special people, I printed them out on my home printer.
My passion for county fairs is well known among friends and family, so I felt this was an appropriate card for me to send.