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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Cards’

This was my first post when I started this weblog four years ago. I thought it was time to rewrite and republish it:

On Christmas night when I was a child, we would go to my grandparents’ house for supper with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Of course there’d be presents for all. I don’t know where she got this idea, but instead of labeling gifts with store-bought stickers, Grandma Masters used old Christmas cards.

When I became an adult and began exchanging Christmas cards, I continued Grandma’s tradition. The front face of a card is ideal for a large package. For small gifts, I use the tiny pictures on the back or cut pieces from cards. It’s nice to coordinate the card with the wrapping paper, such as a poinsettia card for paper with that pattern. A card may be a clue to the gift inside—labeling a box containing a doll with a card showing a little girl holding a doll. If the gift is opened at my house and the card not spoiled, it can be used again next year.

I keep a box of old Christmas cards for this purpose. Like most folks, I display new ones as they come in, but after the season is over, I put them in my box. It’s handy to have plenty of cards to choose from, and every year my collection grows. Some years I’ve had to graduate to a larger box.

I may have to find a bigger box.

I may have to find a bigger box.

My Christmas card collection has yielded an unforeseen delight. It has become a time capsule, going back many years. As I dig to the bottom, it’s like an archeological excavation, refreshing long forgotten memories. Most senders list their children, and I have a record, in reverse order, of the changes in their families. Children who have grown, moved out, and are no longer listed appear in earlier cards. Their names disappear again in cards sent before they were born. Some senders named my children individually and that list also grew and shrank over time, as some of my adult children moved out, and in, and out again.

Here are cards from nieces and nephews before they had children. Afterwards, they get too busy. I have a record of my former boss’ daughter growing up, in the photo cards he gave out every year. Since those are not suitable for labeling gifts, they collect in my box. Here is a card from a family I cannot recall. Perhaps one day something will nudge my memory. One is signed “your paper carrier” with only her first name. And one from my daughter-in-law before she married my son. Some people faithfully send cards every year and some are sporadic. One couple sent cards for seven years after they moved away, then silence. I never found out what became of them.

Like an archaeological record, the collection is incomplete. Many cards no longer exist as they have been used and discarded, and some lack the signature page, so their origin is forgotten. Here is one I will never use, from a dear friend who has passed away. Indeed, the deeper I dig, the more poignant they become. One card from my parents is also signed “Cookie Grandma”, in the last year of her life after my grandfather had passed. Another is signed only “Grandpa Masters” after Grandma Masters was no longer with us. There is one whose picture page was used long ago and only the message page remains, signed, “All our love, Grandma and Grandpa Masters”. I will keep this forever. It was the last I received from them before Grandma died.

Some of my relatives sent home-made cards so special that, although I may use them to label a gift, I will not throw them away even if they become wrinkled or torn. Of course, cards made by my grandchildren are sacred. Deep in the box are some my own children made when they were small. Scattered throughout are annual letters sent with or in lieu of cards. Someday I will go back and read them again.

What will happen to my Christmas Box of Memories after I am no longer able to enjoy it? Before then, I should put the cards into a scrapbook, making a history for succeeding generations. In the meantime, I continue to dig through the box every Christmas, looking for just the right card for a particular gift, being reminded of the past, and surprised by new discoveries.

 

 

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I keep a box of old Christmas cards. Every year, like most folks, I display Christmas cards as they come in. Unlike most, however, I do not discard them after the season is over, but add them to my collection.

Like most people, when I was a child, we would go to my grandparents’ house on Christmas night for supper with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and there would be presents for all. Unlike most people, however, Grandma Masters did not label her gifts with store-bought stickers. She used the pictures from old Christmas cards. She might wrap a package in paper with pictures of the three wise men, then decorate it with a card showing a manger scene, and a ribbon.    

When I became an adult and established my own home, like most people I began to send and receive Christmas cards. That’s when I continued my grandmother’s tradition of labeling gifts with last year’s cards. I use the front face and usually discard the rest of the card unless it has a smaller picture, as some do, that I can use on a small gift. In any particular year, I may not use all my old cards, so they will collect in a box. Some cards get recycled if the gift was opened at my house and the card not spoiled. I try to coordinate the card with the wrapping paper and give, especially for the children, one that would appeal to the recipient. A card may be a clue as to the gift inside. A box containing a doll might have a card showing a little girl holding a doll. It’s handy to have lots of cards to choose from, and every year my collection grows. Some years I have to graduate to a larger box.

My Christmas card collection has yielded an unforeseen delight. It has become a time capsule, going back many years. As I dig to the bottom of the box, it’s like an archeological excavation, refreshing long forgotten memories. Most senders list their children, and I have a record, in reverse order, of the changes in their families. Children who have grown, moved out, and are no longer listed on recent cards will appear in earlier cards. Their names disappear again in cards sent before they were born. Some senders named my children individually and that list has also grown and shrunk over time, as some of my adult children have moved out, and in, and out again.

Here are cards from nieces and nephews before they had children. Afterwards, they may be too busy to send cards. I have a record of my former boss’ daughter growing up, in the photo cards he gave out every year. Since those are not suitable for labeling gifts, they collect in my box. Here is a card from a family I cannot recall. Perhaps one day something will nudge my memory. There is one signed “your paper carrier” with only her first name. Here’s one from my daughter-in-law before she married my son.

 Some people faithfully send cards every year and some are sporadic. Some I have only a card or two from, and some, like one of my brothers, never, although I will send him one. One couple faithfully sent cards for seven years after they moved away, then there was silence. I never found out why.

Like an archeological record, the collection is incomplete. Some cards no longer exist as they have been used and discarded, and many lack the signature page, so their origin is forgotten. Here is one I will never use, from a dear friend who has passed away. Indeed, the deeper I dig, the more poignant they become. One card my parents also signed “Cookie Grandma”, in the last year of her life after my grandfather had passed. Another is signed only “Grandpa Masters” after Grandma Masters was no longer with us. There is one whose picture page had been used long ago and only the message page remains. I will keep this one forever as it is signed, “All our love, Grandma and Grandpa Masters”. It was probably the last I received from them before Grandma died. 

Some of my relatives have sent home made cards so special that although I may use them to label a gift, I will not throw them away even if they become wrinkled or torn. Deep in the box are cards my own children made when they were small. Scattered throughout the box are annual letters sent with or in lieu of cards. Someday I will go back and read them.

What will happen to my box of cards after I am no longer able to enjoy it? Hopefully, before that time comes, I will put them into a scrapbook, making a history for succeeding generations. In the meantime, I will continue to dig through the box every Christmas, looking for just the right card for a particular gift, being reminded of the past, and surprised by new discoveries.

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