Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011: The Christmas Card Post

Last year I indulged in misty-eyed nostalgia for what I consider to be an endangered species, the vintage Christmas card that is actually a card rather than a photo postcard, and which actually wishes the recipient a Merry Christmas rather than a bland, politically-correct Happy Holiday.  If you're so young that you don't remember what real Christmas cards are supposed to look like, you can read last year's Christmas card post and see some beautiful examples of vintage Christmas cards here

Christmas Past, at least the way we remember or imagine it from the present, was simpler, less commercialized, more personal and more family and community oriented than it is today.  It was A Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, and It's A Wonderful Life.  This year, however, I'm sharing this 1952 Ronald Reagan Christmas ad for Chesterfield cigarettes as a reminder that, then as now, Hollywood is in the dream business, and films are magical mirrors that show audiences an idealized reflection of their society.  I mean, seriously?!  When I romanticized those magical 1950s era Christmases from The Good Old Days, I wasn't thinking about cartons of "Christmas card" cigarettes under the tree!!

Yes, I still miss real Christmas cards and I still feel annoyed rather than touched by the cards I receive from the HV/AC company and the dry cleaner (wishing me prosperity so I can continue to shop with them). If you are one of my few remaining family or friends who sends me a Christmas card with a pretty Christmas picture on the front, please know that I am absolutely delighted to receive it, even if you just signed your name and didn't have time to write a Christmas letter.  Perhaps the newer tradition of Christmas photocards is one that our children and grandchildren may look back on fondly as what Christmas cards "should" be.  With families and friends as spread out across the globe as they are today, there are some smiling faces we only get to see on Facebook and Christmas cards anymore.  I also realize that it takes a lot of effort and advance planning for families to get that perfect holiday photo and have the cards printed up on time for Christmas (is that what you people were working on while I was obsessing over turkey and side dishes last month?).

Christmas Card Ornament, photo courtesy of ScoutyGirl
If I do get any old-style Christmas cards this year, I'm saving every single one of them.  My little sister reminded me the other day that we used to recycle Christmas cards for an ornament craft project at my grandmother's house, and I found a tutorial that refreshed my memory on how to do it right here at ScoutyGirl.  In fact, I just had a flash of inspiration for this project -- if I don't have enough Christmas cards to cut up, why not print my own?  All those images of vintage Christmas cards that I tracked down and posted about last year right here could be printed on heavy card stock and used to supplement the cards that come in the mail.  There are loads of images on the internet that would be perfect for this.  I can't wait to do this with my kids over Christmas break -- thanks for the idea, Janice the Manice!

By the way, if you haven't done your Christmas cards yet, there's still time.  I just ordered mine online; with express shipping I should have them by the middle of next week.  (My favorite online sources for Christmas cards are the museum shops at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago).  I'll probably be watching those old Christmas movies while I sign and address my Christmas cards, but I'll try to remember that the best Christmas is always THIS Christmas, this gift of time off from work, school, and other obligations when we can relax with our loved ones and be reminded of what really matters.  Yesterday we had The Santa Claus 2 on while I was mixing up cookie dough, the one where Tim Allen has to get married by Christmas Eve or else he can't be Santa anymore.  When they got to the proposal scene and Santa said that Christmas would end if the lady didn't say yes, Anders piped up, "No it wouldn't!  Jesus would still come without Santa!"  Yay, Anders!

Whether your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, or another holiday at this time of year, may God bless you with his gifts of love, forgiveness, and salvation and keep you safe and healthy.  Merry Christmas!

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