National Christmas Card Day

Did you know that there even was such a thing as National Christmas Card Day? I didn’t. It’s today – December 9th. Here is the scoop from the National Day Calendar website:

Each year around this time, friends and families begin mailing their holiday cards. Christmas Card Day on December 9th serves as a reminder to get your stamps, envelopes, and cards together so you can share your holiday cheer.

Sending a card during the holidays hasn’t always been a tradition. In Victorian England, sending Penny Post was inexpensive and frequent. It was also considered rude to ignore a written message. One particularly popular Victorian invented the holiday card out of necessity. Sir Henry Cole received frequent letters, and it left him little time for other responsibilities. In 1843, he asked his friend J.C. Horsley to illustrate a design he had in mind. Soon, Cole was off to the printer, and he mailed the first Christmas card in the Penny Post to friends, family, and many acquaintances. 

Today, we mail a variety of cards at Christmastime. The tradition of Christmas cards continues in a broader sense. Social and electronic media keep us connected in this modern world more than ever before. However, the Christmas card continues to be a part of our annual tradition, even if it takes on a different style or pattern.

  • Photo cards – Many families take an annual holiday photo specifically for mailing to friends and family. These photos may be snapshots or professional photos. Most families save them from social media, so they remain a surprise when they arrive in the mail, too.
  • Christmas letter – These letters often highlight the events for each family member for the year. Not everyone has social media, so it’s a nice way to catch up with friends and family. The letters usually run a page in length, but some letter writers have a lot more to say.
  • Postcards – These simple cards generally send the same holiday message a regular Christmas card does, but without a fold or an envelope. With a photo on one side and a simple message on the other, they are quick and easy to send, too.
  • Business card – Christmas cards also come from businesses who want to remind us they still want our business. As a marketing tool, businesses know their best customers like to be remembered during the holidays, too.
  • New Year’s cards – The holidays do get busy, and some of us put off sending any holiday cards until New Year. They still want to keep in touch with family and friends, so they send their good wishes in the form of a Happy New Year card. So, don’t mark anyone off your Christmas card list until after the first of the year.

These holiday cards may be the only communication we receive all year long from a friend or family member. Even if we spent an abundance of time with them once, these once-a-year notes touch us with a bit of meaning this time of year. We take the time to connect once again and say, “We’re thinking of you.”

Do you still send/receive Christmas cards?

For me personally, I enjoy receiving Christmas cards. Our first one arrived this week from my friend, Jen. In the past, I used to send cards out every year. Sam and I sent some out a year or so ago, but haven’t done so since. We’re hoping to get a few out this year.

I love when the cards include photos, or the card itself is a photo. Whether the photo is a simple shot of a family, or pictures of the kids in Christmas jammies, or a collage of past events, it always makes me smile to see them.

I may be in the minority here, but I also love to read the “year in review” family letters. To me, I love how personal this is. Sometimes, the family letter is the only way you find out about something. What a wonderful way to get “caught up.”

Our world has kind of lost the importance of real connections. Rarely do we send birthday cards in the mail anymore. Rather, our wishes are limited to “Happy Birthday” via text message or social media. There is something very special about receiving a greeting in the mail. Whoever sent it took the time to pick a card, or write a letter, and chose to send it to YOU. Perhaps, the world would be a better place if we took more time to make someone smile with a card or letter.

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate National Christmas Card Day, buy a few stamps, pick the “right” card, jot a special message inside, and drop it in the mail.

Christmas Cards

Does anyone send Christmas Cards anymore?

I remember growing up, we’d get 3-5 Christmas cards in the mail a day. I remember my mom stringing garland up on the wall and placing each card on the garland. My grandma had some homemade card holder that had yarn around a metal coffee can and you slipped the cards on. They always seemed to have all kinds of cards!

I know most people who send Christmas cards only send them to people who have sent them one. We have sent them in the past, but it was not in our budget to do this year. Maybe that is why we have received so few of them this year. We’ve only gotten a few of them.

Some people hate them, but I always enjoy the “family update” or “year in review” notes that come with Christmas cards. While I am connected to many folks on Facebook, you don’t always catch every life event that may have happened, so those “notes” are always something I look forward to. It is also a highlight to see family photos in Christmas cards (or as the card itself).

I also enjoy the various types of Christmas cards that we are sent. I think that sometimes, the cards people send reflect their personality. Some friends opt for the serious wishes, while others will send ones that are more religious. Others will send humorous cards with funny cartoons on them. Then there are those that really stand out. A great example of this is a card we received last year from a radio friend.

Anyone who’s ever seen a jukebox knows the labels seen above. I thought that this was such an awesome card! It was a perfect reflection of my friends – radio, music, and the holiday spirit all wrapped up into one! There is always a nice, personal message inside to the family, too.

Do you send Christmas cards?

We didn’t send Christmas cards this year, so please give this song by Doug Stone a listen and consider it my “card” to you…

Close your eyes and listen
Cause this is a Christmas card
And I wrote it all down in this poem
Cause I find writing letters hard

Close your eyes and listen
To the Christmas in your heart
Can you hear the angels sing their song?
Can you see the guiding star?

(Chorus)
I may not be there with you
You are in my prayers
And I wish you all a world of peace
On this Christmas that we share

Close your eyes and remember
How the shepherds were like lambs
And how they followed that bright and holy star
On the road to Bethlehem

Hold the hand of a loved one
Cause this is Christmas too
And remember that this Is the greatest gift
That God could give to you

Chorus

And I wish you all a world of love
On this Christmas that we share

Holiday “Letters”

Today’s blog comes from a Daily Writing Prompt.  I thought this was a fun idea.  Some of my answers came immediately, while others I had to think a little bit.  Here is the prompt:  “Make an alphabetized list of the 26 best things about the holiday season, with one item for each letter.  Choose your favorite thing and write a short paragraph about why you love it.”

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“A”

A Christmas Carol.

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Every year since junior high school I have read this amazing tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation by Charles Dickens.  I also listen to Patrick Stewart’s wonderful audio performance, as well as watch the many movie versions.  No matter how many times I hear this story, it always makes me happy.

“B”

Blessings.

The holidays are a time where we reflect on what we are thankful for, and a time for counting our blessings.  In years past, I suffered from severe depression and often never really was conscious of those things.  With the changes in my life, I am much more aware of how blessed I am.  I have so many things to be thankful for and I am truly blessed in more ways than I can count!

“C”

Christmas Cookies.

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To borrow a phrase from Sesame Street – “C is for Cookie.”  Every year as kids, my brother and I would wait for my grandma to ship us a huge tin can of cookies!  She would make Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Sugar, Ice Box, and so many more.  The cookies pictured above are called Pizzelle cookies.  My grandma always made them at Christmas!  My brother still has her pizzelle maker.  Today, I still make the Chocolate Chips from a recipe she had in a metal index card box!

“D”

Dante’ & Dimitri

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My sons.  Sharing the holidays with them means so much to me.  I LOVE watching their excitement as they open their presents.  I love spending time with them, whether it is watching TV, playing a video or board game, or just having a heart to heart talk.  They continue to grow into fine young men, and I am proud to be their father.

“E”

Eggnog

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I LOVE eggnog!  My grandmother always had it for us at Christmas.  There used to be an eggnog mix that she would buy, but I can’t find it anywhere anymore.  My brother and I used to drink this like water!  I recently discovered a “custard” eggnog that was really good, too!  All things eggnog – I like:  McDonald’s Eggnog Shakes, Starbucks Eggnog Latte’s, and even the alcoholic eggnog!  There was a place in Frankenmuth that had a drink called the “dirty elf” – it was eggnog with a shot of Fireball whiskey in it – SO good!

“F”

Family and Friends.

What would the holidays be with out them?!  When I look back on holidays of the past, they are special because of the friends and family who were present!  I look forward to the holidays each year because it means special times with these special people in my life.

“G”

Garland.

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When I think about Christmas, I always think about garland!  My mom used to string it on the tree.  She’d hang it on walls, wrap it around things, hang Christmas Cards from it – it was everywhere!  We had gold and silver garland, thick and thin garland, and even garland with snowflakes on it.  I don’t use it today, because I know our cats will just eat it.

“H”

Holiday Music.

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I have blogged about this enough that you had to see this coming!  I love Christmas music.  There are so many wonderful memories connected to specific holiday songs.  While there are some songs that bring tears to my eyes, the majority of them bring me so much happiness.

“I”

Italian Food.

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EVERY Christmas Eve – my grandma made ravioli.  That was part of our tradition.  We also had breaded steak with ammoglio (moy-gyoo) sauce.  She always made an Italian feast.  I have tried to keep this tradition going, even though my sauce is no where close to being as good as hers.

“J”

Jingle Bells.

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This is two-fold.  First, the sound of jingle bells goes hand in hand with the holidays.  To me, there is something about hearing those bells that makes it feel like Christmas.  Second, it is one of those holiday songs that I love.  It’s probably THE universal Christmas song.  My favorite versions are done by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Doc Severinsen & The Tonight Show Band, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and SO many other versions!

“K”

Kris Kringle.

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Also known as Santa Claus.  He’s the subject of many Christmas songs.  Millions of children sit on his lap and convey their Christmas list to him.  In one night, he delivers millions of toys to good little girls and boys!

“L”

Lights.

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I love Christmas lights.  When I first got my driver’s license I would pop a cassette tape of Christmas music in and I would drive around looking at the lights.  I remember driving around Jefferson Avenue where all these huge mansions were.  They would have their lights done by professionals and they were just amazing.  Walking through Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo, or taking the Christmas train at Crossroads Village to see lights is also a treat!  I love the way they look and enjoy them more and more every year.

“M”

Mail.

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In a world where most communication is done by phone, e-mail, or text messages, I really enjoy getting Christmas cards in the mail.  I also love getting the “year in review” letters in them.  I can never understand why people diss these letters, because I love to read about what my friends and family have done over the past year.  I love when they include pictures from the past year, too.  I also love family photo Christmas cards.  I used to send them every year.  Sam and I were just talking about how we need to get better at sending them.

“N”

Nostalgia.

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No surprise here, especially since 95% of this blog is about nostalgia!  When the holidays come around, I get VERY nostalgic.  I think of my grandparents, my mother, and remember the good times we shared.  I remember past gifts.  I remember past relationships.  I remember good times and bad times.  There are many memories connected with the holidays for me.

“O”

Ornaments.

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One thing I love about Christmas ornaments is that when you put up your tree, as you unwrap each ornament, it brings back a memory.  Every year, Sam and I go to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth and get an ornament that signifies an even from the past year.  This year’s ornament is obviously about us expecting our baby.  We have an ornament from when we got married and when we got engaged.  I have a few ornaments that I brought with me when I moved in with Sam.  One of those ornaments is from 1977!  It was an ornament that we all got when we were in Catechism in 2nd grade.  It is an ornament of the baby Jesus.  It is the oldest ornament I have.

“P”

Presents.

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When I was a kid, it was all about what presents I was getting.  As an adult, and as a parent, your focus shifts.  It becomes about what special gift you buy for someone else.  What can I get that will make the boys smile?  What is the perfect gift for my wife?  What do I get for my dad, who seems to have everything?  It truly is better to give than to receive, but it is also nice to get something special from someone, too.

“Q”

Quiet.

I know, this seems impossible!  I would agree to a certain extent.  Many holiday gatherings are noisy as hell, but I am speaking of a specific quiet. One of my favorite things is standing outside after a snowfall, just listening to the quiet of the neighborhood.  There were many times I’d be out shoveling the walk, and stop just to enjoy the quiet of a winter day.

“R”

Rudolph

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Sure, I love the Rankin and Bass TV special!  I, however, and talking about the above decoration.  My grandma had these, and so did we!  This decoration was made of melted plastic.  Pinterest calls this a “melted plastic popcorn wall or window hanging decoration”.  There was a Snowman, a Christmas Tree and a Santa in a sleigh decoration, too.  My grandma hung 9 of these reindeer and the Santa in a sleigh on the wall every year!  Man, do I miss seeing this every year!!!

“S”

Snow.

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One of the things I love about living in Michigan is that we see all four seasons.  The holidays without snow are very disappointing to me.  If it is mid to late December and there is no snow, the song White Christmas really hits home.  I NEED to have snow on Christmas!  It is just one of those things that makes the holiday mean more.  I love the beauty of snow on the ground and stuck to the trees … but, yes, I do hate driving in it!

“T”

The Tree.

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You can check out the blog I wrote a week or so ago entitled “Oh Christmas Tree” to read about why this means so much to me.  For now, just know that it is one of the things I LOVE about the holidays.

“U”

Underwear.

I really didn’t have a lot of “U” options.  I don’t like underwear for Christmas, but I put it here because of something I started seeing a few years ago.  I guess you would call it a meme today.  I see it posted on Facebook a lot and it makes me laugh:

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“V”

Vacation.

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Again, a two-fold answer.  (1) Vacation time?  Yes, I do get some time off during the holidays, but nothing real big.  I wish I had the opportunity to actually take a few weeks off around the holidays, but that never is possible for me.  (2) Christmas Vacation Movie?  Who doesn’t love this Christmas film.  There are so many great lines and characters in this film!  Come on – you know any time you pass a house with a gazillion lights on it you call it the “Griswold house”!!

“W”

Wife.

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She makes EVERYTHING in my life special.  The holidays are already a special time for me, but spending them with her make them extra special.  There is not enough space on the internet for me to write about how much she means to me, how much I love her, and how happy she makes me.  I am so lucky to call this beautiful woman my friend, my partner, and my wife.  For Christmas this year, she is giving me the best present ever … she arrives in February.

“X”

X’s and O’s

Ok, it was hard to come up with something beside Xylophone for X!   X’s and O’s are hugs and kisses.  Hugs and kisses from friends and family during the holidays make the season special.

“Y”

Year Without a Santa Claus.

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You should have saw this coming, too!  Last year, many characters made a Christmas blog and this year I wrote an entire blog on it.  I HAVE to watch this every year!  I also have to listen to the Miser Brothers songs in the car during the holidays.

“Z”

Zzzzzzz’s.

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Yet another stretch, but Holiday Zzzzz’s are something I certainly look forward to!  In Twas The Night Before Christmas they talk of a “long winter’s nap”.  In my opinion, any time I can grab a nap over the holidays, it’s a good thing!!!

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That was a fun blog to write!  Now it’s your turn.  What are your “holiday letters”?  I’d love to read them …