Have a Capitol Christmas

CapitolMy friends Michael and Irena, who live in a suburb of Washington, D.C., sent me this holiday card with a firm sense of place. I not only love that it includes the Capitol as a centerpiece, but also enjoy the wintry ambiance of Pennsylvania Avenue in days gone by. Trams, horse drawn sleighs and a whole city full of busy people populate the snowy street.

Fair 3

The little town where I live is far less busy, but I was reminded of this scene when my daughter and I attended the town’s annual Christmas fair last weekend. We rode in a light-strung, horse drawn carriage that followed close behind another. Listening to the clop of hooves trotting down the street, seeing familiar buildings from a higher, unfamiliar perch — it was a step back in time and the perfect kick off to the holidays. Now if only there had been a light dusting of snow…

Fair 2

Fair 1

Happy Hanukkah

hanukkahThe Festival of Light begins early in December this year. Although I celebrate Christmas, I keep track of Hanukkah because my mother’s family is Jewish. My dad’s family wasn’t, and my parents chose to raise my sister and me with Christmas trees and stockings and visits to the department store Santa.

My mother’s sister, Betty, celebrated Hanukkah with her husband and daughter, but they always visited our home for Christmas dinner. Aunt Betty hosted Thanksgiving, and that’s how the two sisters divided the holidays year after year, decade after decade.

When Hanukkah rolls around, I don’t think of menorahs and dreidels. Instead, when I call my Aunt Betty to wish her a happy holiday, I remember how much she and my mother, Carlyn, enjoyed each other’s company every Christmas.

Betty & Mom 2
Betty & Mom 1

Betty & Mom 3

Happy Hanukkah, Aunt Betty. Merry Christmas, Mom.Betty & Mom 4

Summer Santa

summer santa 3Growing up in California, I knew that the weather was more likely to turn warm than bitter cold for Christmas. Despite that climate reality, we have always “played” at winter during the holidays. Temperatures might drop down to the 50s or 60s, and every retailer knows that the mindset for Christmas shopping is “Brrrrrrrrr!”

So mannequins sport sweaters and mufflers, fake snow drapes window displays and we all fantasize about crackling fires and roasting chestnuts.

However, in those parts of the world never touched by cold snaps or climatologically reversed from Old World winters (like Australia), Santa has traded his trousers for swimming trunks and his fur trim for flippers.

Say hello to the Summer Santa!

My friend, Carol Buck, sent the top card from Hawaii — “Mele Kalikimaka” from a world of tropical reefs and year-round snorkeling, though I have no idea how Santa and Rudolph constructed theirs. Bamboo?

summer santa 2A different friend, also named Carol, sent Santa in an outrigger canoe, his reindeer paddling happily with him (perhaps because they finally ditched Rudolph and his “nose so bright”). A rainbow paints the sky, and their destination is just visible as the tip of a rocky shore.

I love how plumeria rather than sleigh bells decorate the struts of the canoe.

Finally, Helen in Melbourne, Australia sent me surfing Santa and his greeting of “Happy Christmas.” Those waves prove a challenge for most of the elves, but Santa sure knows how to ride his board.

And if you are enjoying a traditional December of cold and ice where you live, warm your hands for a moment with these Summer Santas.

summer santa 1

Letter to Santa

Letter to SantaSomewhere, hidden away (so well I can’t remember where to find them) are my daughter’s letters to Santa. There aren’t many because the span of years between her learning to write and her relinquishing her belief in the magical fellow was brief.

Yet, for a few years, literacy and wonder combined. Before she wrote letters, she simply told me what she wanted Santa to bring her. Dumbo one year, the Bambi movie another — whatever loomed large on her childhood horizon.

If you have a little one writing a letter to Santa this year, or are penning one yourself, you may use the image at the top of this page to decorate a card or stationery. It’s available (for free) on the Graphic Fairy website.

And get those letters in the mailbox; this is the busiest time of year for the post office AND the North Pole!

Meeting Santa

huntingtonIt’s fun to receive invitations in the mail, isn’t it? Even when they are mass produced.

Once again the Huntington (museum, library and gardens) has used an antique postcard to create their invitation to members to meet Santa. My daughter is grown but still likes to pose with the magic man in the red suit, so perhaps we will go and enjoy the late autumn colors in the gardens. Nothing like a visit with Santa to start the holidays humming.

santa and kid

A Christmas Homecoming

Christmas 1919 Washington DCLike many a holiday card, I begin this post with an apology that I have been such a poor correspondent for the past few months. My job ended, I joined the ranks of the unemployed, but was eventually fortunate enough to begin a new job in the fall.

Now that life is once again more settled, I have returned to Post Whistle and hope that you will return with me.

As I did last year, I plan to celebrate the holidays by filling your mailbox over the coming weeks with Christmas cards and Christmas tales — a little holiday cheer to end the year.

I hope your local postman fills your home mailbox as well because it’s hard to line up emails on the mantelpiece. We may have to visit the post office rather than have it come to us as this mobile unit of 1919, but it’s worth it to gift your friends and families with cards for the holidays.

Happy December, everyone!

Cutting-Edge Christmas

drone deliveriesWhile many of our traditional holiday images are firmly rooted in the decorated trees, pine garlands and red velvet bows of Victorian England, every era adds its own modern take on the season.

Hip suburbanites put up shining aluminum trees in the 50s and hung astronaut-shaped ornaments on them in the 60s, so why not a card of festive drones delivering gifts in 2014?

Robotic drones appear frequently in headlines today, from citizen groups expressing outrage over their use to the need for laws governing their flights over our cities. I spotted this holiday card in my work break room along with a box of Belgian chocolates from USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies — a slew of candy-cane striped drones bearing gifts for the inhabitants of planet Earth.

Whatever regulations may be needed for the drones of the future, I’ll welcome any method that delivers chocolate to me!

Holiday Hellos

Halloween card021Remember exchanging Valentines in grade school? All those little cardboard rhymes brought home in a lunch bag. And Christmas cards. I line them up on the bookcase and sometimes don’t take them down until well into January. (Of course, I’ve been known to do that with my tree as well…)

As for Mother’s Day, I received my first card years before I became a parent because a former roommate liked sending them to her friends, whether or not they had children.

Naturally, the greeting card industry would like us to mail cards on every holiday, so they also trot out a selection at Easter, Thanksgiving and Halloween. Especially Halloween. There’s something about playing dress up and eating way too many tiny chocolate bars that makes for a card-worthy occasion.

But before you join the hue and cry against modern commercialism, recall that sending greeting cards is not a new phenomenon. In Germany, printers produced New Year cards from woodcuts as early as the 15th century. By the advent of England’s penny post in the mid 1800s, mass production of greeting cards was in full swing. 1843 saw not only the debut of Charles Dickens’ holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol, but also the first published Christmas card.

4th of JulyBy the late 19th century, you would have been hard pressed to find a holiday that was not celebrated with a host of cards and post cards, bedecked with kittens, birds, flowers, and cherubic children. Some even injected a little humor into the occasion.

I’ve shamelessly borrowed several of those century-old designs to create my own holiday cards for the Post Whistle Shop, everything from French New Year’s greetings (Bonne Annee!) to a pumpkin-headed man driving a Model T. So if you feel like sending someone an unexpected 4th of July hello, you’re in luck!