Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Christmas is a bridge.

We need bridges as the river of time flows past. Today's Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.” ~Gladys Taber
When I was younger, I remember this time of year fondly when it came to mail.  In the 1950s, Christmas cards were sent in such great numbers that the mailman would come 2 and 3 times a day.  I am just still attached to that event even though I never get cards out on time. Having spent my entire career in the classroom, I could never get those cards out until school was out for the holidays.

But, I do regret the demise of real mail.  Yes, it is nice to have instant communication, but somehow emails, Facebook, Instagram, etc etc etc do not have the same feel for me.

The first Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on the 1st of May 1843. The central picture showed three generations of a family raising a toast to the card's recipient: on either side were scenes of charity, with food and clothing being given to the poor. Allegedly the image of the family drinking wine together proved controversial, but the idea was shrewd: Cole had helped introduce the Penny Post three years earlier. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each.

Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring.  At Christmas 1873, the lithograph firm Prang and Mayer began creating greeting cards for the popular market in England. The firm began selling the Christmas card in America in 1874, thus becoming the first printer to offer cards in America. Its owner, Louis Prang, is sometimes called the "father of the American Christmas card." The popularity of his cards led to cheap imitations that eventually drove him from the market.

It never ceases to amaze me that time passes, but things really do not change all that much!

"Official" Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in the 1840s. The British royal family's cards are generally portraits reflecting significant personal events of the year. Bet you know who will be on this year's card!   In 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first official White House card.  Presidents did send cards, but now there is an official White House card.
Americans are projected to buy 1.6 billion holiday cards this Christmas season, but the card market in general has experienced a 9% decline since 2005 -- a slump projected to continue through 2015. Consumers are replacing holiday cards -- about 30% of the market -- with photo cards and digital communications.

I received my first card in today's mail even as I typed this, and, I just smiled. 
So, if you want some handcrafted cards for a change and you are in the area, stop in.  These are only $2.50...make someone smile!

What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp.  ~Author Unknown

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