Friday, December 20, 2013

Three Cheers for Christmas Cards

 The year was 1934.
The place ~ Detroit, Michigan.
A little boy named Emil picked up his pencil and carefully wrote down his Christmas wishes to a little girl he knew in school.  After putting his 1 cent stamp on the card he dropped it in the mailbox and off it went.

79 years later it now belongs to that little girl's daughter... me :).
As a child I often asked my mom if she had anything from her childhood.  Growing up in a single parent home during the depression her Christmas gifts were provided by the Salvation Army.  An organization that she had a soft spot for always.
Consequently, she had no toys or books or anything leftover from her childhood to show me.  She did, however, have this Christmas card.  It didn't do much to impress me as a young girl.
My best friend's mom still had an old set of Little Women dolls.  I thought that was much more impressive than an old Christmas card.


Fast forward to 2009.
My mom was in the later stages of her journey through Alzheimer's disease.
One day I was talking with the Hospice social worker and she shared with me that she saw Alzheimer's as being born in reverse.  At the time I was so overwhelmed with all that was going on that I didn't really appreciate what she was telling me.
But, as my mom's short term memory disappeared and she clearly was living once again in her younger life I began to understand a bit better.
A few months before she passed away, Brett and I were visiting one day and mom very excitedly told us that she had a new boyfriend.  She sounded for all the world like a young girl telling us about her first boyfriend.  By this time her memories of being married to my dad for 56 years had all but disappeared.  
When I asked her what her new boyfriend's name was she replied "Emil".
Brett looked at me in confusion and I whispered, I'll explain that one later.
I now knew why she kept that Christmas card from Emil all those years.  I think he must have been her first crush and now he was going to be her last.  My dad always had a wonderful sense of humor and I knew that even he would be laughing in heaven over this.

It seems as the years go by there are fewer and fewer Christmas cards in the mailbox.  I know with all the forms of social media now, it may be a dying art.
I sure hope not.
I love to send and receive them.  
My mom was the youngest of 7 children.
Therefore, most of my aunts and uncles on her side are now gone.
One aunt remains and she was the wife of mom's oldest brother.
She is still sending Christmas cards.  This note was enclosed in her card this year:

I'll be counting on it, Aunt Georgia.
Isn't her handwriting beautiful?

I may be old-fashioned, but I hope the sending of Christmas cards remains a tradition for many years.
Perhaps that explains why this vintage ad hangs in my family room ;-).


  1. Oh I love this story! How wonderful to still have that post card. It sure did help you understand your mother. It does not surprise me that you are a keeper of Christmas.

  2. Oh my Kim, this post is so touching. As you know, I also lost my Mom to Alzheimer and so I've been thinking of her a lot lately as she love the Christmas season so much. What a darling card and a precious keepsake for you.
    I also love sending and receiving Christmas cards. So many have stopped sending them which makes me very sad.
    Wishing you a nice weekend.

  3. Oh Kim how beautiful. I also feel like you do, I love to get the cards and read what is in there, if there is a note telling me about all the wonderful things they did the past year. I used to send out 100 cards and now I am down to about 30. isn't that a shame.
    Merry Christmas.

  4. Kim, this is such a beautiful post! I am doing a post tonight about Christmas cards and mail too. What a sweet story about your dear mother and her 'crush on Emil'. I'm glad you still have the special Christmas card from him. Blessings and a Merry Christmas to you. Pamela

  5. What a nice memory you have of your mothers! I love that she had that postcard all these years and now it's yours to cherish. And how sweet is that note from your Aunt. Your right her handwriting is beautiful for her age. I sent out cards this year, but did not last year. Maybe the every other year thinking is something I should do also. Have a lovely holiday!

  6. I like giving and receiving Christmas cards too. One year I decided not to send any and I missed it so much.
    Your Aunt Georgia does have beautiful penmanship - another dying art.
    What a beautiful story of your mom's first crush. What a special card to have kept all these years.
    My mom is in the first stage of Alzheimer's. She is on medication and it seems to really slow the progress down. She has stayed the same for quite a while now.

  7. What a beautiful story. It would be lovely printed in a book of Christmas stories. The card is so special and sharing memories helps us all get through the holidays. They always bring a mix of memories to us as we get older. Merry Christmas my friend!

  8. Such a lovely post, Kim. I hand made my cards this year, for the first time! I really enjoyed, and made each one different and with different people in mind. I only send out a couple of dozen down from 75 80 I used to send! Merry Christmas to you and your family. xo

  9. Kim, that is such a wonderful story and one important to remember as we more and more often are finding it necessary to relate to those struggling with Alzheimer's.
    I still send out a stack of cards and I love to receive them too.
    Merry Christmas!

  10. Aw, Emil! That's precious! One of my wiggly students gave me a Christmas card with his wonky handwriting inside AND a drawing of a snowman. Pretty darn cute for a kid who is trying to be "cool" and something I will treasure because his heart is so dear. I am going to hang my cards up today.

  11. This is so sweet. I love the old cards too. Your aunt's writing IS beautiful. I love that she's planning to send cards in two more 99! How precious. We get fewer and fewer cards every year, and I don't always send one out. I miss the days when they stacked up, though, and it was lovely to hang them up on the staircase. Beautiful piece.

  12. He must have been a favorite friend, for her to keep that for so long. :-) So sweet. I still send Christmas cards in the mail every year, even if everyone else has reverted to sending wishes online. I just think there is something special about getting a beautiful Christmas greeting into the hands of the people you love. Merry Christmas to you, Kim!

  13. I'm with you...still treasuring the cards and letters that arrive in the mailbox. And I'm still sending them as well. I love the story behind your mom's old Christmas card. Beautiful!

    Blessings to you and yours this Christmas!

  14. What a heartfelt, touching story this is! On my quiet Christmas day, I found it so interesting to stop here and visit you on your blog. I love this story about Emil, and it has me still smiling at it's humor. How special that you actually have the postcard. I too, like Christmas cards and I hope it never ends. For my mother, trips to the mailbox are a highlight in her days.
    Merry Christmas Kim! You are a special, gracious lady!

  15. Hi again! ;-)

    I love these nice cards, too.

    Sorry for my "little English". I'm french. ;-)

    Ville de Québec


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