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


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


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


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                                          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!


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.

Christmas Shopping


When did Christmas shopping become a chore to complain about or a campaign to begin strategizing around Thanksgiving? If only it could consist of a small (already decorated!) tree and a couple of baskets of dolls as in this delightful card from my friend, Andrea.

Maybe it’s because we feel we have to find gifts for a list of people for whom we’ve been buying gifts for decades, and we have simply run out of ideas. And because money usually IS an object, we can’t just blithely order gold-tipped fountain pens or Tiffany pendants. (Or maybe gift-buying would still be a problem if we could buy anything, because then our recipients would already have everything).

It seems so much easier when buying for children. Every stuffed animal is a wonder; every small whiz bang toy a delight. I remember one year when my daughter fell in love with a decorated gum ball a friend of mine gave her as a casual additional gift. She thought it the BEST THING EVER, far superior to most of her more expensive, and even requested, presents.

Let’s hope for a few inspired gum balls in the gifts we distribute this year and perhaps a flash of that wonder when we unwrap our own packages this holiday season. Remember, everyone out there is trying to be a good Santa’s helper.

I’ll leave you with this photo of my mom and her mom and a crazy big doll that I like to imagine was her favorite toy one holiday season.


                                      Carlyn & Selma

Frosted Fun

glitterCan you tell that this joyous card is sprinkled with glitter on every icy crystal of snow? I have loved glitter-dusted cards since I was a child, tipping them back and forth to watch the light shimmer on winter woods and cozy cottages.

It seems old-fashioned now when publishers can print scenes on foil-finished card stock or add rainbow touches via light-refracting trim. Maybe that’s why I still love glitter on Christmas cards, a throwback to an earlier era — my era — when those tiny sparkles were fairy dust and snowflakes and magic.

I also like the card’s red cheeked girl. If the photo below were in color, you’d probably see red cheeks on me, too. While it only snows in snow globes where I live, you can drive up into the local mountains to find the white stuff. I’m not sure if my two-year old self knew what to make of that frosted landscape, but I’m sure that I loved how it glittered.

P.S. Love my plaid pants!

Winter Wonderland

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

christmas-mail-1Readers, are you still out there?

My mail ship veered off course for nearly a year. You can imagine all of the reasons — excuses — and none of them provides an adequate explanation. My life and the accompanying calendar just zoomed past at breathtaking speed. But as the holidays approach, my thoughts inevitably turn to Christmas cards and reconnections and this sadly neglected blog.

Maybe I should not promise to be a better correspondent in the future. Like the scrawled note at the bottom of a seasonal card, intentions are good, but distractions are many. So even if these electronic cards and letters are destined to post only sporadically in the future, let me say here and now HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Let’s begin a season of Christmas.