It is a sign of the season delivered to your door, a colourful custom that informs and brightens spirits, and a tactile reminder that someone is thinking about you.
Sadly, in the age of instant communication, the Christmas card is something we see less and less of as time passes.
The practice is centered around one of the big days on the Christian calendar, but it is really something bigger. Beyond faith and religious affiliation, the seasonal card is a means of connecting with the people you know, or love, worked with, or worked for. Sometimes it’s the only time you communicate with some of those people, and often it is marked with a special stamp.
The Christmas stamp, itself, often shows how the season is celebrated.
Canada Post, each year, produces both a spiritual image and a non-denominational, seasonal series celebrating Santa or snowmen, sleigh bells and the lighter side of the season. Canada issued the first Christmas stamp in 1898; not just a first for the country, but for the world.
Earlier this year a dear friend sent me a large parcel of cancelled stamps, knowing I collect these delightful samples of art, culture and history. While I’m not an obsessive philatelist, I will admit this is but one of my somewhat nerdy passions. I have long been fascinated by the range of imagery found on stamps from around the world. I’ll also admit to being especially fond of the Christmas issues.
While society’s main method of long-distance communication has shifted progressively from handwritten cards and letters to e-mail, the object behind sending Christmas cards is the same as it was in the 15th century; a wish for good luck in the year to come.
I remember my mother, each year, parking herself at the dining room table with her address book and boxes of cards to write to lifetime friends across the globe. She enjoyed sending the cards as much receiving them. If you’ve received a Christmas card in past years, you know the warm feelings tucked inside the envelope.
Maybe this year is a good time to spread seasonal joy in the more traditional method? Why not send wishes to a few favorite people? You may even want to tuck one of those photocopied family newsletters inside the envelope, just to let everyone know what you have been up to.
It’s not sending the card that matters, as much as sending the message.