Christmas Card Greetings

Yesterday I finally dressed, and took my Christmas cards to the post office. I needed stamps and while there I bought them, stuck them on the letters, and mailed them. It was the first time I did anything productive after my minimally invasive procedure on the prostate. I hate to think what the recovery would be like had I opted for one of the invasive procedures. Nevertheless, I felt good enough to drive to the P.O. On the way there I began think about how I started sending Christmas cards, why do I do it?

The answer is pretty simple, I do it because my parents did it, and my wife Barbara’s parents did it. I remember as a kid watching my parents team up at the dining room table to hand write, stuff, and lick envelopes. My parents had many friends and they all exchanged cards for the holiday.

That got me to thinking who the heck invented the Christmas card in the first place. History tells me that before 1843 the upper crust British were in the habit of writing lengthy holiday letters to friends. They would then send a servant to hand carry the greeting to the friend. Then in 1843, along came Henry Cole who worked for the newly invented postal service. His job was to encourage people to use the new service. It was he who invented the very first Christmas greeting card on a single piece of heavy paper. On it he printed a traditional holiday scene, and a Christmas Greeting. These cards were printed and pre-posted with a stamp and called the penny postal, and thus the snow-ball started rolling down the hill.

The volume of cards sent by mail is diminishing rapidly as folks are opting to send electronic messaging over the printed card. The U.S.Postal Service, however still sells Christmas stamps. When they started this tradition the stamp depicted only a Christian scene. This year I had a choice between six designs depicting 2022 holiday seasons, and three from last year as well, and twelve more new commemoratives. At sixty cents each stamp, I shelled out $120 bucks for two hundred stamps and the USPS got that much richer.

At one time I would have bought many more just to add to my collection, but since I am faced with disposing of said collection I have learned that stamp collecting, even though it still does exist is no longer popular. My collection dates back to 1947 when I began at the urging of Sister Flora my fourth grade teacher. All I know is that many foolish people like me spend more money than necessary on stamps for their collections. All of them believing it is a good investment and will grow in value. I have yet to see a collector sell his collection at over face value.

When Dad and Mom sent their cards the postage was three cents, today, it is twenty times higher at sixty cents.

Since I am wrestling with the idea of no longer sending cards through the mail, I will test an idea out on you my BLOG readers. Here is my 2022 Christmas letter to you as a friend.

                                      December 18, 2022

Dear Friend:

I love reading Christmas letters. Friends report their activities, and those of their children and grandchildren. When I don’t see a friend for a long time reading all of those details makes me happy. Many times, I learn that someone has moved and I didn’t know it, or worse that a friend died. Watching families grow and shrink are all a part of this magnificent life God has granted us. That is why we celebrate the birth of Jesus each year, because we love Him, and we see His love in the families we know.
My own life is not very exciting anymore, not that it ever was, but things are slowing down. I haven’t traveled since 2016, except to drive to the Grumpa Joe family reunion in Covert. Otherwise, I drive the same car, live in the same house, eat the same food, sleep the same hours, and drink red wine with the same terrific friends. Even my plan to move into an apartment changed, and instead, I did some remodeling by finishing the basement.
The kids are doing well. Jacque has passed the five-year mark with her cancer, but she continues to develop side effects which the doctors can’t decide are from the cancer, or her radiation treatment. As poor as she feels, she insists on visiting her dad most every Sunday. Her two kids are out of the nest, Jenna started college and Joey works as a chef. My oldest son Steve turned 60 this year. I can’t believe he is just a few years away from retirement. His oldest son Ben started college, he’s headed toward pharmacy. God knows I can use another pharmacist to keep me straight with my collection of pills, Bradley continues in high school. Michael the youngest is also an empty nester. Dana and Abbey moved to the towns they work in, and Dan finished his degree in Astro-engineering, but signed up for a master’s degree. He wants to keep on learning more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.
Lovely and I invited her grandson Gerry to come and live with us, and by golly he accepted. That means my family is growing again. Barbara celebrates her twentieth year in heaven, Peggy her fourth, and I left Panduit for retirement twenty years ago.
Work on intarsia art has slowed down because of the remodeling, but will resume again soon. One thing I did was to build myself a shop with walls, lights, outlets, and shelves to keep things neat. Note, I didn’t make a home-made Christmas card this year. During the summer, I help Lovely with her vegetable garden tending to pickles and cucumbers which I call the Pickle Factory. She makes dill pickles nearly every day of the summer. That girl loves her pickles (so do I).
After fifteen years I resigned from the Lions Club board of directors, but remain active as a plain Lion. Instead, I joined the Board of Directors for OASIS a support group for people with vision impairment. So many things to do, and so little time or energy to do them.
For once I have put up my outside Christmas lights before the temp dropped below freezing. In years past I hated the frozen fingers and ears, but loved the Vodka warmups. This year I just loved the Vodka.
Here is wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With all our love,

Grumpa Joe & I.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you! Made for a delightful read. Helps me know you that much better. Wishing you and your near and dear ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2023!

    • Thank you for there Christmas wishes. Thankfully, the recovery has been very rapid after the tube was removed. There are still some issues to deal with but nothing close to the spasms.

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