At a recent second-grade performance of The Nutcracker in Richmond, Virginia, two mothers fretted over Christmas cards. One, busy with a sick child, a limping dog, and multiple command performances of The Nutcracker, had not yet picked hers out. The other, a business executive who travels out of town at least twice a week, predicted she would be lucky to get hers addressed and stamped by New Year’s. The possibility of skipping Christmas cards never entered the conversation. Despite there being many ways these days of extending holiday cheer that do not require stamp-licking or keeping track of a peripatetic cousin’s physical mailing address, these two busy women were determined to connect with friends and family through cards delivered by mail.
“Before we posted our family Christmas photo on Facebook, we mailed images of our idealized selves and lives to the people we loved”
“My great-grandmother, who was born in the 1880s, passed away when I was about 11 years old. Looking back, it is fairly obvious now that she was a hoarder on a colossal scale, but since this predated reality television, we tended just to say she was a packrat. As we cleaned out her house in rural Missouri, there was something special waiting: two boxes brimming with postcards. These were not of the “wish you were here” variety depicting washed-out hotel swimming pools and palm-tree-lined boulevards. These were older, more elaborate—variously embossed, gilded, tinseled, and extravagantly colored. They were greetings for birthdays and anniversaries, tokens of affection and romantic overture, and happy returns for every holiday on the calendar. Christmas, especially.”