Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas cards

I just put the last stamp on the last card for this holiday season, sending my friends and family a festive Christmas greeting.

Each year, I review my practice of sending Christmas cards. I hear more and more people have given up on this long-standing tradition. The day will surely come when it is another thing of the past.

It doesn't take me long to realize I am not yet ready to abandon this tradition. Something would be missing from Christmas without it.

To not connect with people who are important in my life, even if it means connecting in a tangible way only once a year, would be a significant loss to me.

And as I address each envelope and sign the card, I think fondly of the recipient and how thankful I am for the richness each has added to my life. Each in a unique way.

I wondered where the tradition of sending Christmas cards ever started. So I Googled.

I learned that Christmas cards began when school children in England drew Christmas greetings for their parents. And in 1843, the first director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum commissioned an artist to create the first professional Christmas card so that he could send greetings to his friends.

Christmas cards can serve as bridges to keep friendships alive. I think it is fitting at Christmas time, when we celebrate the joyous birth of the Christ child, to let loved ones know they are valued by us, as we are valued by the Baby Jesus.

I also love to receive Christmas cards. I go to my mailbox in anticipation, wondering who I will hear from today. Maybe you?

Not everyone has e-mail. Or is on Facebook. Those are perhaps efficient vehicles for communicating, but they don't express the same, gracious messages as a lovely card. Pen and ink have been forgotten in this era of keystrokes and send buttons.

So I'll continue this Christmas card tradition, hopefully for many years to come.