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Friday, December 07, 2012

'Tis the Season to Be Greeting!

I love to give and receive Christmas cards. For me it is a way to keep in touch with people who are important to me, even though I may not see them very often. I always try to write a personal message on all the cards I send to people that I seldom see, which means that at least once a year I do think about about the people I write. But the past few years, and this year in particular, postal rates mean a lot of second thoughts about who to send cards.

I chose badly for sending outside the UK. 1.20 pounds for any card over 10 grams. That's $1.92 at today's exchange rate!) Fortunately I do have enough cards that fit the bill for the lower rate of 87 p or $1.39  -- otherwise it would pay me to buy another box of smaller cards. As rates climb higher and higher, one can imagine that in the not too distant future there will be no such thing as the postal service. In the past year I suspect that I've only mailed birthday/anniversary cards and packages. Amazon means that I can order goods from the American website and so avoid expensive international charges. A long time ago, in a Universe far away during the olden days, I remember when it cost 3 cents to mail a letter!

Of course the weight (and size) of a card isn't the only consideration when choosing a card! Some people are not Christian or have no religion -- careful then to find a card that says something inoffensive such as 'Season's Greetings' or 'Peace'. Others are religious and prefer not to get winter scenes, or robins or cardinals and want a Madonna, or a manger scene or the three wise men.

A former vicar of our church once gave a sermon in which he held up a card with a picture of something inoffensive and non-religious on it (a robin, I seem to remember) saying to the congregation that this card did not convey what Christmas was all about and complaining about cards that did not properly convey the meaning of Christmas.

It so happened that the card turned out to be from the Bishop. And the Bishop just happened to be in the Congregation that day! Talk about "getting your vicars in a twist"! :-)

26 comments:

  1. I have to admit that other than a handful of people without computers, we do not send Christmas cards any more. All monies that we would spend on postage and cards we give to a charity instead. We do though send a an email Christmas letter and an email card to everyone so they know that they are in our thoughts. Have a great weekend Diane

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    1. For two or three years now our church has a very large card we are all encouraged to sign -- with the idea that instead of spending money on cards for other members of the congregation that money will be donated to charity. I think what happens, though, is people sign, donate money and still give cards. There is at the back of the church a 'mailbox' where we can hand deliver cards to others.

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  2. That's even better than my vicar story! This year, I just wrote a long letter in Swedish and sent to friends and family in Sweden. It cost a lot less than sending cards and I think they will appreciate the update from over here.

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    1. It's always lovely to receive a letter from those who are far away that we care about. Especially at Christmas when it's a time we think about our friends and family.

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  3. One thing I do insist upon, when MY WIFE and I choose a card design each year, is that it actually say "Merry Christmas" on it somewhere. I certainly respect that other folks may not be of my religion, but that's what MY WIFE and I are celebrating. If it wasn't Christmas, we wouldn't be sending the cards at all. And anyone who is my friend understands, even if not Christian. And I am just as happy if they wish to send me a "Happy Holiday" or "Happy Chanukah" or anything else.

    Just my preference. You're probably a nicer person than me :-)

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    1. Oh, Sully, your heart is at least as big as the universe! And I 'get' exactly your point. We don't choose a card design! I choose the boxes I like at the store -- not always possible to see what's written inside. So I separate out the ones that are general greetings.

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  4. In France they don’t send many Christmas cards or Noel cards as they are mostly for children (Papa Noel etc.) but they do send many New Year or Holiday cards. I like to send them too but now that we are retired there are not many people to send them to. We don’t receive many cards of any kind either. I do collect vintage greetings cards and enjoy looking and posting them at the right time. I was just reading an article saying that when the Pilgrims came to the US they forbade people to celebrate Christmas as they called it a Pagan holiday, and they would fine anyone celebrating it. Times have changed (people here don’t remember history though.)

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    1. I discovered that France didn't have the Christmas card tradition when we first got our house. Each year I send cards and always get New Year's cards in return. There was a time in England when the celebration of Christmas was forbidden -- Just after the English civil war, I believe. Certainly there have been celebrations at this time of year for thousands of years and the traditions of Christmas have been an amalgamation of many different customs and beliefs.

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  5. Slowly, through the years, I eliminated people from my list, or they eliminated me, and so on until the list became a handful of family and close friends we wanted to remain close to.

    Sadly, with Facebook, email, and buying on line have made our chores easier, but they have not satisfied our need to remain close to those we love.

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    1. Online activities are certainly a help in maintaining contact with people -- but nothing will replace the touch of another human being -- though it would seem that the value of this is being less and less appreciated. The truth is that we are social animals and need each other's company.

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  6. I was wondering where all my Christmas card exchangs went. For me they have turned into monthly long phone chats or breakfasts. Except my sister-in-law in England. She never was much for phone chats and hates email, so we just write. It's so novel I love to do it. I used to write to my aunt in a nursing home, but she died last year. She loved getting letters.

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    1. Personal letters are irreplaceable! E-mail is great and easy -- but descendants will no longer be discovering letters in the attic lovingly kept. There is something magical about seeing hand-written letters from the past -- like being able to touch another through time...

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  7. Wow, you're really old, if you remember 3-cent stamps! (I do, too, but I was really young. . .)

    Our main aim in sending out our Christmas cards is just to keep in touch with people we don't see very often, but don't want to lose track of (and, you know, maybe, when the Class Reunion committee is looking for me, somebody will have torn the return address off the envelope. . .)

    We generally look for a card with a low-key, but still 'Christian' message, on the order of, "May God Bless You in this Season of Joy". Because, you know, we really do want God to bless them. We might get something more 'theological' for our more 'pious' friends, but we do sorta expect that folks who know us, know where we're coming from. . .

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    1. Oh, Craig, I'm positively 'doddering'! I can relate to everything you write here! My 50th class reunion comes up in June 2013! I hate to think where those 50 years have gone ;-)

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  8. I like Christmas cards that say "Happy Christmas", with lots of glitter and corny pictures. That's what it's all about to me.
    .......the vicar story is priceless. My late father in law was a vicar and he had a few howlers to tell, too.

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    1. I love all the corny Christmas stuff, too! I just wish I had a magic wand for the preparation!

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  9. As a retired vicar, your vicar story had me laughing and squirming at the same time, Broad. :-) I have always loved sending and receiving Christmas cards and my list is still very long, though sadly getting shorter with each year that passes.

    Our family was very amused to notice that after I was ordained, the cards I received suddenly began to consist almost entirely of Nativity scenes, presumably because everyone thought that robins and things were no longer suitable for this odd person I had become. :-)

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    1. Your comment has made me decide to send the Vicar something a bit different this year! ;-)

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  10. Dear Broad, your vicar story has me still grinning as I type these words of thanks for making me laugh out loud when I read it.

    I myself like chirping robins and glistening snow and evergreens standing tall and stately. But I also enjoy those cards that show me Bethlehem and a stable and three wise men traveling afar to greet the hope and promise of a new birth.

    Mostly, I now send just e-cards from the Jacquie Lawson web site. But this year I do hope to send a few cards to dear friends whom I've missed seeing in the past few months.

    I do so love Advent and the twelve days of Christmas. A time of expectation and renewed hope and then of joy. Peace.

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    1. I agree with you, Dee. I enjoy getting so many different cards ... whether they are serious or humorous I enjoy them all! I, too, love the Jacquie Lawson website!

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  11. I love to receive cards when there is a little note attached, even if it is the only contact between us now, just to have a little bit of personal news is always good. Last year I was so angry when receiving a card from some very good friends of my husband... they had been incredibly close many years ago, and it was just signed , with heir official signatures ( Sir and Lady X)....not even addressed personally to us. It was clearly just one of hundreds that they dutifully signed and sent......it meant nothing.
    I hope you have a lovely few weeks, opening cards and reading messages from dear friends. Fondest wishes, Janice x

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    1. I love getting notes and also 'round-robin' letters, especially when there is a personal line or two added. I can understand your disappointment at receiving such a 'dutiful' card -- the joy of cards is the 'personal' touch -- at least for me.

      Best wishes to you and yours over Christmas, Janice. My thoughts and prayers are with you especially over the coming months.

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  12. oh my gosh..what a story!!
    The USA presidents Christmas card this year is of a black dog running in the snow...somehow I like the robin better...but better yet a picture of Jesus...

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    1. The British Prime Minister's card is of him and his wife with someone holding a flaming Olympic torch, standing in front of number 10 Downing street in the blazing July sun -- not much evidence of Christmas!

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  13. Another brilliant post. The vicar story had me in stitches.

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  14. Thanks, Molly! Glad you enjoyed it...

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