As far back as I can remember, my family always sent Christmas cards to friends and relatives. My mother wrote the Christmas cards herself, a job that took several days since she hand-wrote a personal message to each recipient. The cards themselves were usually from a box of assorted holiday cards purchased from Woolworth’s; we never sent out photo cards or even cards preprinted with our names.
When we were young, my sisters and I had little interest in most of the mail our family received throughout the year with the exception of holiday cards addressed specifically to us. Those cards, sent at birthdays, Easter, and Christmas, were usually from our grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and sometimes included a gift of cash which went promptly into our bank accounts.
Christmas cards were different from the other cards we received. Christmas cards were addressed to the whole family, and were from family friends, neighbors, and relatives, many of whom we hadn’t heard from since the previous Christmas. I marveled at the designs – it seemed that every one was different. Some were winter scenes right out of Currier and Ives, some were nativity scenes or pictures of angels, some were incredibly opulent with gold or silver trim.
For a number of years, my parents taped the Christmas cards to the door frames in their apartments with holiday adhesive tape upon which was written “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. The tape was further decorated with pictures of elves, holly, and other holiday images. This tape was quite special, and I haven’t seen a similar type of tape since. I suppose that the closest equivalent to this tape today would be holiday stickers.
I was fascinated by this tape but, by the time I could appreciate it, my parents had very little left and no idea of where to find more.
Several years ago, I inherited the collection of family photographs and negatives, most of which are still in remarkable condition. In sorting through the photos, I found several old photo Christmas cards from relatives – you know the type – they’re the cards printed by photo shops with a family portrait and a holiday message.
Much to my delight, several of the photo cards still had pieces of the holiday tape attached. I carefully peeled the tape off the cards and taped them to a piece of paper as an effort to preserve the Christmas memories from my youth. Now, if I could only remember where I put that piece of paper…
Written for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Day 4.
Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko