Christmas Mail

christmas-mail-2

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.

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.

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

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?

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

Fa La La La La

PutnamThe secret to a great holiday card is its universality — what works for Christmas will work equally well for Chinese New Year’s or Valentine’s Day or President’s Day.

I just received this cute little postcard from my publisher, G. P. Putnam’s Sons a couple of weeks ago. Because it has a February postmark, I know that it wasn’t lost in the mail somewhere. Publishing houses are busy places, and like me, they probably stretch their holiday wishes through more than one season.

Besides, the message on the back, “Wishing you a season full of high notes!” sounds as good to me now as it would have in December. My editor even added a little “Happy 2015!” to the back.

So maybe those of us who need more time to push all our greetings out the door should acknowledge that. Let’s eschew pine trees and jolly elves on our cards, and then any time of year can become “a season full of high notes.”

Laughing with Mom

Reindeer GamesMy mom sent the Christmas cards from herself and my dad, just as she usually wrote the letters and postcards over the years. Normally she chose something traditional, a Currier and Ives styled winter scene or perhaps a religious theme.

That’s why I was both surprised and delighted to receive this silly card from her in 2009. She wrote, “Just thought you would get a kick out of this.”

I did, and I still do.

Study those deer for a moment. I think the eye patch might be my favorite touch. And doesn’t the front left reindeer have a red nose — Rudolph with his hoof in a sling?

A silly card in years past stood out among the depictions of decorated trees, smiling Santas and snow-swathed English villages. Now, a hand-addressed envelope arriving in the mailbox is distinction enough.

But I’m glad Mom chose to make me laugh when she sent this scene from extreme reindeer games because it reminds me how much she enjoyed a good chuckle. Here’s Mom opening her presents on Christmas morning in 2009, the same year she sent me the card.

Mom opening Christmas presents

 

Where’s Home for Christmas?

Bullet Train SantasI enjoy receiving Christmas cards that have a sense of place, preferably a place very different from my own. My friend Tomoko, who lives in Tokyo, sent the wonderful card that opens this post.

In a snowy landscape we have Santa AND Mrs. Claus flying overhead behind six reindeer, dropping decorations like wreaths and candy canes from the sky. Meanwhile multiple Santas are leaping from one of Japan’s famed shinkansen, or bullet trains, but I’m not sure why. Maybe to pick up the falling decorations? In the background, Mt. Fuji rises in winter splendor. I love this card!

Cajun ChristmasMy childhood friend Leigh Anne sent a very different flavored greeting from Louisiana, where the crawfish are dancing in the pot to Santa’s lively zydeco tunes.

Gumnut BabiesGumnut (or bush) babies decorate a card from Audree, who lives in Melbourne. Children’s author May Gibbs wrote a series of stories — well known Down Under — about fairies called gumnuts that live in spicy-scented gum (eucalyptus) trees.

Madeline cardAnd finally, we come to France where “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…” And of course the smallest one was Madeline. This Madeline card didn’t actually come from France, but it was sent by my former high school French teacher. I think that counts.