The sparkling cards with heartfelt blessing for the season, letters recounting the year’s activities – they are some of the first heralds of Christmas time! I love reading what’s happening in peoples lives and to share our family’s adventures. Who doesn’t?
Well, a good friend of mine, for one. She feels like there is never enough time, her letters read like an itinerary rather than an engaging view into their family, and she’d rather use the money spent on the stamps and the cards for something of more lasting value.
After our rousing discussion, we learned how the tradition was started in the first place. Here’s what we found:
The Christmas card began in the early 1840s by Sir Henry Cole and was actually born out of his having too little time to respond to the correspondence that was stacking up in his house. He felt it inconsiderate not to respond to the people who wrote letters to him so he hired an artist to create the very first Christmas card for his family’s update. While some criticized him for this time-saving act, many others caught on and began sending their letters and cards out at Christmas time.
Christmas cards made it to the U.S. in the late 1840s, but were expensive and only used by the wealthy. Then, in 1915 the Hall brothers stepped in and began mass producing affordable cards. Their company, Hallmark Cards, is still one of the leading producers of greeting cards.
It seems even our ancestors had trouble keeping up with correspondence. In our continued efforts to be efficient, we can now have our cards engraved with our names, can hire companies to send to our mailing list, we can even send holiday greetings digitally. And yet, we’re still struggling to stay on top of communications.
My friend and I will probably never agree on whether to send Christmas cards or not, but we do agree on one thing: we hope everyone’s holiday season is filled with family, friends and making new memories.
To quote Bob Hope:
“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.”
Happy Christmas, Merry Holidays, Greetings of the Season to all.