Christmas Mail


I hope by now we have all received a few Christmas cards to line up on our mantle or counter, to string above doors or hang from ribbons. Electronic cards are nice. They play songs and characters dance, but I can’t imagine saving the email to enjoy years hence as someone once did with this turn-of-the-last-century postcard.

I am always thankful to receive a few more tangible holiday memories in an intangible electronic world.

Old World Enchantment


Don’t you wish you could walk down this magical, golden street, browsing shops for the perfect armload of Christmas gifts and memories? A young woman I once hosted for a week as an exchange student sent the card from Switzerland: “As I’m writing this postcard, it’s snowing outside in Zurich…”

It doesn’t snow outside where I live, but every Christmas Eve a couple residents from my town drive into the mountains with a pickup truck to haul down enough snow to build a town snowman. One. He’s our Frosty and our Winter Wonderland. He’s cold toes and nipped noses — and a good excuse to wear mittens so we can rub his icy belly.

And, oh how we love seeing him appear every year.snowman

The Bravery of Old England

I’ve never had a plum pudding, carried flaming to the table with a sprig of holly on it like a jaunty beret. But frankly, after seeing some Victorian Christmas cards that star Ye Olde Figgy Pudding, I doubt that I am courageous enough to handle the experience. Those Victorians were an intrepid lot to face that dessert year after year.

Even when the illustrators were aiming for cute, they usually hit a bull’s eye in badass scary. Imagine meeting this fellow strolling down Christmas Tree Lane:

I have not decided which is worse, the knife and fork arms or the strange glass balanced on his head. Actually, the twigs spelling Merry Christmas are pretty creepy, too. And despite the presence of Santa in this next card, I would give those treats a miss (hit turbulence with his sleigh and he could wipe out an entire town):

Even the Victorians admitted their favorite Christmas treat had a dark side:

And while puddings still enjoy a certain popularity in England and the Commonwealth, I definitely prefer the more modern interpretation, such as my daughter found with “Mr. Pudding” on a t-shirt in Sydney, Australia years ago.

But then, I don’t think that was a “Christmas” pudding.

My unease continues…

Small Packages

little-cardsIn praise of little cards and half-sized envelopes, of compact illustrations and cute designs, the ultimate small packages of Christmas cheer!

Most of our cards and letters come in standard sized envelopes, but mailing the miniature is not a new concept. Sometimes very tiny envelopes were used a century or more ago, perhaps the better to quickly hide in one’s hand away from prying eyes.

But whether your mail overflows the box or tucks into a very tiny corner of it, here’s hoping there’s lots of it.

My Yuletide Return

I’m baaaack! (Which you may have noticed with my kick-off post a couple of days ago). Yes, come the Christmas season and my concomitant yearning for a mailbox full of Christmas cards, I return to my blog, which celebrates all things sent, received, wrapped and anticipated.

With Christmas, our memories and boxes of old decorations feel renewed rather than recycled. And while we may never again be as wide-eyed as those first holidays of our childhood, the magic remains, waiting to be found and shared and, yes, MAILED.

So with a couple of photos from my own daughter’s first Christmas, welcome to the seasonal renewal of Post Whistle.

Ghost of Publishers Past

Just as cards saved through the years recall friends and family of holidays past, so, too, does this cute greeting remind me of the publisher who brought out my first book: Tricycle Press.

That picture book was Why Explore? and Tricycle released it 12 years ago.

Since then, I have discovered that no subsequent book, no matter how well received or even how well written, feels the same as holding Book # 1 in your hands for the very first time. The sensation of being a “published” author is sweet indeed after years of rejection letters.

Tricycle Press went on to publish two more of my picture books before a large publisher acquired its parent company, Ten Speed. That publishing house already had several children’s imprints so they discontinued publishing books under the Tricycle banner and disbanded the imprint’s staff.

It was sad to see them go, but I had a happy ending with my editor from Tricycle, Abigail Samoun. She moved on to cofound Red Fox Literary and took me on as a client, so we still work together.

But I will always remember fondly Tricycle Press where it all began with my first book in 2005. 


The Pen Holder’s Tale

My friend India gave me this jar 20 years ago. She knew that I liked willow ware, which its pseudo Chinese landscape is reminiscent of; plus, it did not sell at our yard sale.

It looks old, but not valuable, so I’ve always used it as a pen holder on my desk, on hand for taking notes, writing in my journal, and far too infrequently, penning a letter.

When India first gave me the jar, I checked the bottom for markings. None. It looked worn so I figured it was at least 50 years old or more, but I thought nothing more about its origins until I saw this picture:

They’re not twins, but those jars definitely look like siblings or close cousins of mine. The chipped pair in the photo are among the 13,000 Victorian jam jars and pickle pots unearthed in an archaeological dig at the site of a new London rail station.

Crosse and Blackwell once operated a food manufacturing factory on the site, chucking left over or broken pots into a cistern from the 1870s until 1921. The blue and white jars were designed to hold preserved ginger, so I believe my pot once held the same.

I’ll never know how and when it crossed the Atlantic to America and traveled overland to California, but whenever I look at my pen holder now, I will think of London housewives, Crosse and Blackwell and a long ago jar of preserved ginger.