Christmas Eve Angel

angel

On Christmas Eve I’d like to share with you this lovely angel from a card my friend Susan sent me in 1997. While I cannot look at a picture like this and name the era, I know that styles change and an angel drawn nearly two decades ago will probably be different than angels drawn today. So enjoy this winged beauty from the past and enjoy your Christmas tomorrow.

Merry Christmas

 

Those Wacky Victorians

frog-card

If I write the words “Victorian Christmas card,” what springs to mind? Perhaps a convivial cast of Dickens-esque characters enjoying carols round the tree or sitting at a banquet table with a flaming plum pudding. Or maybe you think of turn-of-the-century whimsy, with beribboned kittens and rosy-cheeked children. But how about ice skating frogs who have lost both their footing and their pipes, all in a row?

Welcome to the wacky world of Victorian novelty cards where beetles dance with frogs while some winged thing shakes a tambourine.

bug-card

Then again, nothing says holiday cheer like traveling bee and beetle musicians in a wintry landscape. Their walking sticks are a nice touch.

bird-card

Strange these cards may be, but stranger still are the dead bird postcards. No kidding; I have seen more than one Victorian holiday card that features a dead bird lying on its back, little feet cocked in the air, a cheery Christmas message written below.

I decided not to “send” you any of those. You can thank me later.

 

Out of this World

space-reuben-h-fleet

While nostalgia usually edges out modernity at Christmas, there are exceptions. When I worked at a science-oriented non-profit several years ago, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center sent me this card of Earth and Moon ornaments. Isn’t the Moon’s shadow on Earth a wonderful touch?

I also received this gift-wrapped planet from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Placing a world suspended in space on white linen and blue ribbon is sheer genius. space-smithsonian

My sister acknowledged the “spacey” side of my personality when she once sent me this Astronaut Santa card. Note how the electronic equipment on his suit is also crimson.space-santa

And I confess that I am the one who picked out cosmic Christmas paper for wrapping gifts this year.

So however far afield your own thoughts or travels take you, have yourself an out of this world holiday season.

Photo Bombed

So my sister sent me the perfect Christmas card for Post Whistle. It has stamps. It has glitter (even if you can’t see it in this photo). It has postmarks. It even lists stamp denominations in pence for that British touch. Naturally, I posed the card in front of the tree for a picture.

Even more naturally, my cat strolled over to investigate.

He clawed the carpet a little to get comfortable…

He sniffed the card…

He knocked it over.

Home photo studios are a challenge.

 

A Very English Christmas

wallace-gromit-stamp

Since Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol nearly 175 years ago, the British have occupied a special corner of the market when it comes to yuletide cheer. Just check out these amazing Wallace and Gromit postage stamps.

I don’t really like plum pudding, but I want to serve that gigantic holly-bedecked cannonball for dessert. And note the paper crowns worn in the first and third stamps, the type of tissue paper hats found inside Christmas crackers. I am such an anglophile that I have been foisting that custom on my American family for the past 20 years.crackers

Finally, even the British postman’s red bag seems more seasonally apt. So, here’s wishing us all a holly-filled, paper-crown topped season of joy. Happy Christmas, one and all!postmen-in-the-uk

12 Days of Christmas

12-days-unicorn-pear-tree

While the 12 Days of Christmas actually refer to the days AFTER December 25th, I like to think of the song as a final countdown to the big day. Over the years, I have been sent several beautiful cards that reference the carol, but I notice all like to focus on the beginning — the partridge in a pear tree. Where are the eight maids a-milking or six geese a-laying? Instead, I have this exquisite bird and greyhound, reminiscent of a 15th century tapestry.

An Anne Geddes baby shot: 12-days-of-christmas-2

and a foil-trimmed version from my mom and dad:12-days-of-christmas-2-1

And then, there’s this southwestern motif. I know those are quail — and that there are two of them — next to a cactus. Still, it could be a decorated prickly pear, and I don’t mind a quail standing in for its European cousin. prickley-pear

And for a refresher course on all 12 verses: 12-days-of-christmas-2-2

Cool Cats Kringle

shopping-christmas-%22wishing-you-the-cool-side-of-yuletide%22-sherrie

I love, Love, LOVE this 80s card from my sister, Sherrie! From the punk hair and Catasonic boom box to the Cats Fifth Avenue shopping bag, this cat exemplifies its era and stands out from the cards with perennial scenes of cozy cottages and snowmen. It shouts (yowls) its contemporary spirit, one that feels amusingly retro some 30-odd years later.

But then cards aren’t designed for the ages. Each folded bit of cardboard in its flimsy envelope is meant to be opened and enjoyed for a moment, displayed for a week or two, then tossed out with the crumpled Christmas wrappings when the season ends. Saving such a card is akin to tucking away a time capsule. You may not remember the gifts you received or the holiday TV specials watched, but the flavor of the era remains.

The card also reminds me of my own cats in the 80s, complete with high tech electronic flea collars and a bit of tinsel garland.christmas-1980s-cats                                          Mickey 3 and Piwacket

First of the Season

Today was the moment. I opened my mailbox, and there they were — hand-addressed envelopes tucked among the bills and year end charity appeals for donations.

The first Christmas cards of the season have arrived.

My reading group coordinator, Phoebe, sent me an old-fashioned toy shop scene (or as she described it, “a sparkly card for you”) that glints and glimmers in the light. Dorothy, hostess of my writing group, chose a notecard with a Jane Austen quote: “A person who can write a long letter with ease, cannot write ill.” From your pen to the muse’s ear, Jane!

I wonder whose will be next?

Operation Santa

Have a yen to send a letter to Santa, or even play Santa’s helper and help fulfill the wishes in one? The post office wants to help!

KPCC reports that “Operation Santa, the US Postal Service’s holiday charity program, is celebrating its 104th year of answering hopeful letters addressed to Santa Claus.”

Volunteers can visit a designated U.S. Postal Service Branch to adopt a letter and purchase the requested gifts, which the post office will deliver by Christmas.

The big red guy would definitely approve.

The Game’s Afoot!

victorian-board-game

Imagine a world where mail at Christmas — and any other time of the year — was so ubiquitous, you could devise a game around it. I know nothing about this Victorian board game entitled Christmas Mail except that it was once sold to and played by families more than a century ago.

What might have been the objective — to deliver more letters than anyone else, to receive more cards, or perhaps to maneuver past obstacles like snowed in mountain passes or spooky forests to place children’s Christmas wish lists into the hands of the big guy in red?

Whatever that game’s original goals, my own game of Christmas Mail has but two: send out Christmas cards in time for friends and family to open them by December 25th (a date I don’t always meet), and maybe collect a few from my mailbox in return.