English civil servant, inventor and author, Sir Henry Cole, introduced the first commercial Christmas card in 1843. Its depiction of a large convivial group echoes the still popular notion of what Christmas should be, family and friends gathered together in celebration. Side panels illustrate charity towards the poor.
I’m struck at how both themes also dominate a story published by Charles Dickens that same year — a little tale called A Christmas Carol, which he wrote in a mere six weeks.
When I was a child, I loved running to the box at the end of our driveway to collect the mail in December because I was allowed to open so many of the envelopes. My favorite cards had glitter sprinkled on the snow.
While I don’t think I have the first Christmas card I ever received, I can show you the first Christmas card I’ve received this year. My friend Audree sent this stylish tree from Australia, and it’s even flecked with glitter.
Fewer cards arrive in the mail now, but I hope the custom of exchanging them won’t have an end date. I don’t save emailed greetings, but I’ve saved some of my favorite cards over the years because they were too pretty to throw away or they made me laugh or someone wrote something special inside.
So I will share a few of those with you in this blog over the next couple of weeks as we count down the days to Christmas. However, I’ll have to “send” them without envelopes.