“In some of your holiday decorations, plan to use the greeting cards you’ve saved from last year. Maybe you kept them because they were handmade and carried a very special message for you. Or, perhaps they were just too pretty to throw away. Whatever the reason, seeing them will bring back memories for you, and give everyone who steps inside your door a chance to enjoy them.
“Endless are the ways in which Christmas cards can be used. The six ideas here are only a start, but you can see how attractively they can trim a door, wall, table, or stairway. After NewYear’s, paste the choicest cards in an album to look at all year. Or select several of the most attractive, frame, and hang for year-round enjoyment.” Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas, 1954
I was supposed to keep the cards? Display them next Christmas? Put them in albums? Frame them? I didn’t know . . .
When I was growing up, the cards were a very special part of Christmas with my parents. (I’m sure I’ve written about this before.) The routine at our house was for my dad to make the daily trek to the post office. When he brought in the holiday mail, the Christmas cards would be separated from the remainder and set aside. After supper, we would open and read the cards together. Mother would update the address book as we went along. Then the cards were handed to me to be displayed. I taped the first cards to door frames, and when that was accomplished, I started up the stairs.
After Christmas, it was my job to take the cards down and sort them. If the card could be re-used as a package tag or in making ornaments, it was saved. The others were tossed. Yes, I know!!! --What were we thinking?
I know exactly what we were thinking -- that we just couldn’t save all that. Back in that day, my parents received many Christmas cards! Postage and cards were inexpensive, and people sent cards liberally. It was an age when you remembered anyone of your acquaintance – well, almost – with a card. And there were cards from special friends they had known earlier in their lives. Perhaps I never would have known much about their past experiences if it hadn’t been for this time of sharing.
Sending cards was a big event for almost everyone, I think. They were properly hand addressed, and many people included personal notes and letters. A few people sent blanket letters. I remember a piano tuner and his wife – both blind – sent an exceptionally interesting letter. As we opened each card, we read the message on the card itself and as well as letters.
I remember this quiet activity with my parents as a very special tradition. When I left home, things changed quickly. Gradually the volume of cards decreased. Mother put them in a basket and invited me to look through them. Just wasn’t the same. And I was never able to duplicate this tradition in my own home either, though I have always displayed the present year’s cards as they come in. KW
[My mother clipped the "lady with muff" from a card but never used it. It's just the kind of image Mother loved. The "mailbox" is just the front of a '50s card, trimmed to serve as a tag. Mother embroidered the nativity and finished it as a card. And "Peace" is actually a recycled card made by a friend of mine from "previously used" cards.]