traditions: over the miles

Printers have been cashing in on Christmas since the eighteenth century (that’s a long time!) – at least in London and other large cities around the world. Schoolboys filled in with their best penmanship pages pre-printed with special holiday orders – they were called “Christmas pieces.”

Or hand-written letters…

Can you imagine sitting down and penning 125+ letters to loved ones?

I can. I tried one year and after my hand and wrist felt as if they would fall off, I opted to stick to printing and the bi-annual photo card.

The first Christmas cards for sale commercially were created by John Calcott Horsley. He was a respected illustrator from London, England, and in 1843, he was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole to create the card. Cole was a wealthy businessman who wanted to bring awareness to the need to help the poor.

See Christmas card here (it actually made the news today!).

Louis Prang became the first printer to sell cards in America in 1863, after he had paid a visit to Europe and learned about their cutting-edge German lithography.  He began creating American greeting cards and is sometimes known as the “Father of the American Christmas card.”

This tradition has grown through several generations in my own family and I find it incredibly sad that it’s becoming a lost art.

We have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram – all sorts of other ways to stay connected online. Why add to it?

Each year when I was growing up, Mom would sit at the kitchen table with a list of names and her address book. She’d spent an entire Saturday, or a weekday afternoon when us kids were off at school – little interruption (genius, I might add), and fill out envelopes and cards for Christmas. We’d do photo cards every other year, or as money allowed, and send them off sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I remember helping her lick the envelopes and place stamps and, when I was a little older, she would sometimes include little hand-written notes from us kids.

I loved it.

I’ve since moved away from home (10 years ago), but that tradition is alive and well in my own life. Each year, I write a letter capturing the last twelve months and what God has been teaching me through those events, both big and small. I didn’t want to simply state everything I’ve experienced and leave it at that; I wanted to use that holiday letter as part of my testimony and get the gospel out there to my friends, family and neighbors.

Honestly, Christmas cards and letters have always added that extra personal touch for me. I’m a sucker for a good, hand-written letter received via snail mail. And I don’t care if I end up being the only one sending out cards to loved ones each year. Sure, it gets to be expensive when you start getting into the hundreds on your list, but…if you divide that cost among that number, it’s like purchasing a $2.00 Christmas gift per person (and sometimes less if you’re sending a letter to a family of six). It’s worth it for me.

He placed it on my heart while I was in college that this should be a tool to share his love with others through the window that is my life.

The ups

The downs

The trials

The good

The bad

All of it

All of it

I have nothing to hide. I am not ashamed of who I am or Whose I am. I’m inviting you to come along with me on the journey that is my life, even if only for a short while or via a glimpse through the kitchen window. It’s my story – one that God has given me – and I’d rather use it to bring him glory by sharing it with you. Perhaps some aspect of it will touch your life and help you get through whatever circumstance you may facing or dealing with. We all have them and, even though it may feel that we are, we are not alone.

If you’d like to read this year’s letter, click here.

How about you?

If you were to send out holiday cards this year, who would be on your list? Who would you want your life to touch? There are numerous ways you can reach out to those your life directly affects – physical cards, photo cards, printed letters, handwritten letters and, for those of you who are thrifty, take the e-card route – those are usually free and require a little of your time.

And if you don’t want to write out a snapshot of your last year, simply tell those people what they mean to you.

Kind words go a long way and I encourage you to extend a little love to someone today.


© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

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