Every year my husband and I wait with anticipation to receive the first Christmas card. This year it came the day after Thanksgiving. Delivered in person by my father-in-law himself. Full of smiles that he was the first one to get a card to us.
Full of smiles because he knows, that we LOVE to receive Christmas cards. We wait for this time of the year to get cards with hello’s and handwritten notes to us, about how our family and friends are doing.
You could say we are old fashioned in this way, a social media post of Merry Christmas to everyone… are nice. But they aren’t like the real Christmas cards back in the days prior to the internet, where cards were the form of communication and usually it was during the month of December when people would send a letter updating the recipients on their entire family’s successes and going on’s.
I was listening to a radio show this last month and they were talking about the lack of Christmas cards that are being sent. It hurt my heart. We send boxes of cards out each year. Every single one of them hand addressed, hand written with a greeting to the recipient, personalized for the family, and we write a personal note inside…. Along with this year, for the first time, a Christmas letter! My husband loved receiving those Christmas letters so much that he had to start that tradition for our family.
You should have seen the look on his face as he was writing it…. He then left to go do evening chores… and asked me to print it out… I will confess here, that I leaned over and deleted several complete sentences that he wrote about me. Hehehe.. Let’s just say, I tell you all everything! So we didn’t need to go on and on about me… Right?
I loved when our kids called, after they got the letter and read about what their dad said about them… and they all said they loved the letter! Awwweee!!!!
We love this time of year.
We send cards, we take the time, because we know what it feels like to get a card… we savor the moment when we get one of those sweet Christmas cards.
We go to the post office box more often than usual and open the box with anticipation…. A gleeful look passes our face as we quickly pull out the envelopes and see who it was sent from. We don’t open them in the post office… No…. we carefully bring them home and place them on the dinning table… Placing them in the middle of the table.. and we wait….
We wait till Morning or the evening.. when we are both done with our chores… we pour a cup of coffee and even if there is one card.. we sit down…. Sometimes saying a thank you prayer for the card… and slowly open it… Taking turns to open them… and reading them to the other.
The total over the moon excitement comes when we see the coveted Christmas letter…. If you open an envelope and you happen to get a Christmas letter in yours… You just won the undivided attention of the other one at that table.
While we listen to the other read the letter out loud.
And then we comment…. How awesome… or pray for the person and try and see how we can help or love on the sender, or reply with a letter of encouragement for what they are going through.
We are active participants in the lives of our friends and families….
Several years ago, as we sat and opened the few 6 cards, we had gotten we were left with a sense of sadness through the season. Going to the mailbox isn’t quite as fun in the bitter wet cold when you know nothing will be there.
Our friends were all taking to social media and leaving the old-fashioned snail mail behind. Our father in law walked in the door one year and commented on how he barely got anything…. And the sad look on his face… showed of loneliness. I still to this day put a stamp on his card and hand it to the mail lady to stick in his box. I imagine the smile on his face when he opens his box and sees a card for him…. Waiting… then the snicker he usually gets when he realizes it was from us.. and we wasted the money on a stamp… just for him!!!
Worth every penny.
My heart was breaking however. We equally were missing the annual catch up with friends… and wondered if the days of getting and sending Christmas cards were over?
That was the moment we devised a plan…. A plan to celebrate our family and friends, that take a moment out of their life to think of us, enough to send us a card. It was the moment the Christmas Card Contest was born.
From Thanksgiving to the day of Christmas we have an open contest for whoever would like to enter. Entry is simply a card addressed to us. All season long we hang them in the house and pray for the families as we pass by the cards. We are excited and delighted to receive the cards and we get to see the growth of all the kids on the photo cards… Reading the letters that come with them is the biggest treats. When they come.
Sometimes we get just a card with a signature of the sender in them… nothing else… No morsels or nuggets but the knowledge that they were thinking of us. Sometimes we get full blown messages that take every millimeter of card space… there have been times we are asked to pray for them.. and that we do at that moment… and sometimes we get a letter in the mail that you know… You smile… ‘they are trying to game the system’.
But the one thing remains…. Perfectly clear to us….
They were thinking of us.
And we have some hilarious friends!!!!
As we collect the cards at the end of the season, we pile them up and sit down for one last go through. This is when we go through and find a way to pick one card, that stands out from the rest…. It could be one that is totally handmade or one that touched our hearts in a way that left an impression on us… each card is picked up and we share and reread the notes… we talk about the people… and how much they mean to us… we fondly remember times with them… and each one of us goes through the stack.
We can’t share any more details then that. but in the end a winner is chosen… And each year the winner is a total shock to each of us… Even the first year. Family, friends, all the way to co-workers have won the contest. It truly isn’t a deep secret to us. It’s all about the person that spent their precious time sending us a card.
After the winner is chosen it is then our job to find a way that we can shower that friend/family member with a gift. Usually one that we made, just for them. Prior winners won handmade aprons from my husband’s uniforms. Or handsewn bears for their grand-kids, or a basket of canned items for their family to enjoy. We even made homemade lip balm from our bee’s wax! Whatever it is that we send, it is all geared to the person that wins the Christmas card contest and what we think they would love and cherish.
Did I mention we love showering our friends with love?
Last night we sat down and a winner was chosen. Which happened to be a dear longtime friend of mine. And now, I am sitting here tasked with coming up with a gift that is perfect for her. Perfect for the creative beautiful person that this friend has always been…. Truly, what a blessing this contest has become.
Did I mention we love our friends?
This is the 4th year of the contest. I don’t see us stopping it anytime soon. We love finding one person each year to love on….
I leave you with this…. Find a way to love on your friends. This world is lonely and cold when we stay behind the computer screen and don’t look for the chances that God gives us to love on each other. Life truly is precious!