If you feel like you've gotten fewer Christmas cards this year, the numbers bear that out. The tradition seems to be taking a little hiatus as some people turn to electronic means of keeping in touch.
So it was especially good to hear from many readers who wanted to share treasured Christmas cards they've received over the years. The cards convey tales of separation, memories of shared vacations, thoughts of wintertime stillness, examples of family silliness.
While Christmas card-giving is down this year, there are signs that some people are once again picking up their pens because they've missed passing along the joy and beauty that a greeting card provides, especially at the holiday season. Those of us who love cards hope that indeed turns out to be the case.
We hope these greetings help make today bright. Merry Christmas!
Treasured cards carry messages that ring down through the years.
— Annie Calovich
My fiance left for the service May 24, 1944, and shipped out in September to the South Pacific. For a year and a half I didn't know where he was — but he was able to send a Christmas card. That was 66 years ago. We were married in 1946 and celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary in July 2006. He passed away in September of that year.
When you open the bells you see written: With all my love Wilfred
— Anna Bergkamp, Wichita
I was 9 years old when my grandmother, Nancy Trisler, died in 1933. I inherited a stack of very old greeting cards, including this one from the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. It has to date to between 1927 and 1933. My grandfather had fought in the Civil War. When I found this card I immediately joined the Daughters. Through that organization I was able to trace my heritage through my grandfather back four generations to Germany.
— Tina C. Gilbert, Wichita
I inherited this postcard from my Grandmother Clark. The postmark says 1914. It was made in Germany and brings back memories of the fun times around her Christmas tree. I display it every year along with other hand-me-downs from Germany.
— Glenna Craig, Kingman
My father, Don Smith, sent this card to his mother in Alma during World War II when he was stationed in Africa. He was a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient. The paper card features a Christmas ornament made from a padded silk fabric with a winter scene. I display this special card in my entry at Christmas.
— Linda Hollis, Wichita
In August of this year I was invited to join Arlene Graber, Dorothy Minson and Barbara Kanopik on a wonderful tour of classic lodges and parks of the West. What a surprise to receive this handmade Christmas card from Arlene showing a picture of me from the trip. This was my first trip with these ladies so I was unaware that Arlene creates personalized Christmas cards each year depicting scenes from one of her trips. What a thoughtful thing for her to do!
— Jorita Belden, Wichita
Dad made this card somewhere around 1960, when “cut and paste” really was cut and paste. Mom (Jean Hendricks) is especially proud of this card.
— Mark Hendricks, Wichita
For 30 years, my sister and I have sent the same Christmas card to each other. The treasured but somewhat tattered card has traveled over 7,000 miles via mail. My sister first sent it from Kansas to me in Wyoming. Each Christmas since then, whoever received the card has kept it safe, adding a short note of that year's important happenings, and mailed it to the other the next Christmas. Several pages were added over the years. To us, it's a symbol of love and family in good times and sorrow. It has become an important Christmas tradition that will always be treasured.
— Mary Lou Beskett, Andover
I have had this card for a couple of years, and I think it’s perfect. The picture is beautiful, and the writing says it all:
Sometimes the quiet moments
are the most magical of all
— Gloria Wooten, Wichita
Our family tradition was to have a nativity scene on our Christmas card. The year our sixth grandchild was born, it occurred to me that I could create my own nativity card using the grandchildren. I made the children's outfits and used the playhouse at my daughter's house. With lots of help from my two daughters to place the children back in the scene, I just kept clicking the camera. This Christmas card always makes me smile!
— Nancy Farley, Derby
My favorite Christmas card was made by my mother, Bobbie Yandell of Derby. It is a snowman made from string art. Each year she makes a different type of card for her family and friends, spending much of the year prior to Christmas working on them. I love this snowman card in particular. Each year I bring him out and display him along with many of the other cards my mother has made for me.
— Dian Stelter, Colwich
I received my most cherished Christmas card on my first Christmas when I was less than 2 months old. It’s soft and fuzzy and is from my Aunt Erlene, who passed away this October, and her family.
My mom had a box for each of us kids with all of our cards, art, report cards, etc., in it. It was always special to get the box down out of the closet and go through my things, usually on a cold winter day when we couldn’t go outside and play. I would always have to take this card out, look at it, feel it and show it off to my brothers and sisters.
Now the box sits under my bed. Sometimes I take it out and go through the box and feel the soft fuzzy card from my aunt.
Inside it reads:
Santa sure will be surprised
And awfully happy, too,
When he comes round
To fill the socks,
And finds one that’s
— Patricia (Meitl) Gray, Wichita
It is a tradition in our family to give family Christmas cards and place them in our socks to open on Christmas day. Eight years ago I opened a card from my two sons that did not look anything like the cards I had received in years past that would always have Mom on the front of the card in some way. Instead, this card was a peaceful home in a country setting. When I opened it up I began to read one of the most precious cards I have ever received. It was a thank-you card from my sons, then 22 and 23, for being the mom I was to them while they were growing up.
A little background: I was a single mom raising two boys 14 and 15 while they were going through their "trying" years. In their eyes I was one of the meanest moms they had ever seen and they let me know it. All their friends seemed to have a later curfew than my boys, no other mom would embarrass their sons by doing checkup calls to parents where they were supposed to be, no other mom took away TV and phone privileges simply because they received a "D" on a progress report at school — I think you get the picture. So, after many years of fighting the fight (and in the process raising two great sons), this card made up for all the rough patches. In the card they acknowledge that I had taught them well even though they may have thought different at the time. That, and the other sentiments they wrote in the card, I will always hold close to my heart. I also bring the card up when I have parents ask what to do when they seem to be in a tug-of-war with their children. I tell them to keep steady as a parent no matter how tired you are or how loud they can yell and cry and pout. In the long run you will all come out winners.
— Marcia Williamson, Wichita
We have lived in our neighborhood over 20 years. Within those years, we have had many of the same wonderful neighbors. It is one of the reasons we stay.
Our next-door neighbors Pete and Janet DeFazio sent our family the most wonderful card last year. Janet had enrolled in a watercolor painting class earlier in the year. We were sent a personalized Christmas card: Janet had painted a picture of OUR HOUSE at Christmastime!
Since then, we have framed it, and it sits proudly on the entryway table for all to see.
We will cherish this beautiful card in years to come. It brings wonderful feelings of what it means to be good neighbors and friends.
— Steve and DeAun Warfield, Wichita
This card was sent in 1943 from my Uncle Ray (then 14) to his oldest brother, Louis (age 25). Louis had been taken prisoner from Corregidor in May 1942. He survived the Death March and was taken to a prison camp in Mukden, Manchuria, until August 1945. Louis never had an ill word to say about anyone in his life, not even his captors.
At the time this card was sent, my grandmother Bessie Roark from Gypsum, had four stars in her window representing four sons serving in World War II — Louis, Russ, JD and Jess. Her daughter, Rene, was married, and her two youngest sons, Ray and Keith, were still at home.
Louis was granted two silver stars for heroism but did not receive the actual medals until six decades later when the family was finally able to track them down with the help of Rep. Todd Tiahrt. The celebration of that event was covered in The Eagle in June 2003.
The frame that holds the card was made by Louis after he returned home. Both of these wonderful men have since passed on, Ray in 2006 and Louis just this past summer at the age of 92.
Thank you for the opportunity to tell the story of these men I loved so much.
The text on the front of the card reads: "Greetings to a Pal in the service." Inside it says:
You aren't forgotten while serving. Dear Pal, I just couldn't refrain from wishing you good luck at Christmas and hoping we'll soon meet again!
It was addressed to Camp Hoten, Mukden, Manchuria, via New York, NY.
— Debra Roark Smith, Wichita
This card, featuring a painting called “The Scavengers,” was sent to me in 1954 from a friend living in Durban, South Africa. My lifelong girlfriend and I grew up in northwestern Connecticut 80-plus years ago. I have many memories of activities that we participated in as Girl Scouts, junior choir members, taking leads in school musicals, etc. After graduating from high school, Mary and I went our separate ways, but we never ceased to keep in touch, at least with Christmas cards. Mary's husband, Bill, was an engineer with an oil company. He was sent to many different locations overseeing refineries being constructed, often requiring two- to four-year stays in each country. Every Christmas my family looked forward to Mary's card, never sure what country was home for them at that time. When I want to take a trip down memory lane, I spend time looking at the many Christmas cards and reading messages from places including Sumatra; Rome; Naples; Essex, England; New Plymouth, New Zealand; and Norway.
After those many years of living globally, her parental roots called her back to Bar Harbour, Maine, for her remaining years. Lifelong friendships are so rewarding, and for me I couldn't ask for a greater journey.
— Carol Reel, Wichita
I received a pop-up style card that makes a four-room paper dollhouse, complete with Christmas tree, from my grandparents ("G.G. and Boppy") when I was in first grade. I carefully set it up in my room many years after that. There was a sheet of punch-out items to decorate the house with, and I'm pretty sure that they are all still there. Paper dolls were very popular at the time, and this was just amazing to me. The cards that Aspen Boutique sends out always remind me of this card.
— Kim Gee Vines, Wichita
This card was given to my husband and me as a cushion for a Christmas gift of coral by our friends Joe and Patty Morris. I thought it was Patty's unique way of giving us a Christmas card. As I read it I found it was a card given to Patty and Joe by a friend of theirs. It struck me as very funny. The next Christmas I sent the same card back to Patty for Christmas. We then started sending it back and forth for any occasion. The first year we dated it was 1980, although there was some exchanges before that time. We have stapled pages to it over the years. It is rather tattered but Patty and I both cherish this old card. Our friendship dates back to the 1950s. The last time I received it was at Halloween. I will give it back to Patty for Christmas.
— Wanda Flynn, Wichita
I treasure a 1944 Christmas card that my dad, Lawrence Carney, sent to his folks while he was overseas serving in the Army. It depicts St. Michael the archangel (the defender and protector in battle) in front of an American soldier who is holding an American flag in one hand and Australia's Allies flag in the other hand. And the Statue of Liberty is behind both of them. My cousin Patsy Hansen brought it to me in 1992, the Christmas after my dad died suddenly from a heart attack. I was grieving because I didn't get to tell him goodbye. It was so heartwarming to get this little piece of his life in his younger years before he married my mom and had all of us kids. It really keeps him close to my heart. I get it out every Christmas and put it on the mantel and it reminds me what a great dad I was blessed with.
— Lucy Lavelle, Wichita
I received a copy of this poem in 1998, right after my brother, Ron, died Christmas week at age 51. He had lived with me for 25 years as he was mentally challenged. Our dad had cancer, so Mom had a full plate (before Hospice). Dad died in 1980, Mom in 1981.
This poem reminds me of Jesus' great love for His own!
My First Christmas in Heaven
I see countless Christmas trees around the world below, with tiny lights like heaven's stars reflecting in the snow.
The light is so spectacular, please wipe away the tear.
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music cannot compare
with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you the joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me: I see the pain in your heart.
But I am not so far away we really aren't apart.
So be happy for me dear ones, you know I hold you dear.
And be glad I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I send a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I send each memory of my undying love.
After all love is a gift more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told
Please love each other as our Father said to do.
For I cannot count the blessings or love He has for you.
So Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
— Sharon Everhart, Wichita
I received a Christmas card I think in 1958 from Beech Aircraft Corp. when I was 16 years old. I belonged to a Senior Girl Scout troop, and we were some of the first "Wing" scouts. Olive Ann Beech took an interest in us and invited us to come to the company. We toured the Beech plant and met Olive Ann Beech in her office with her photos with many important people on the walls. I was really impressed. I've kept the card with her autograph all these years, remembering the care and importance she showed us and how much fun and friendships I made in Girl Scouting.
— Trudy Trimble Haag, Wichita
There is one card in particular that I've treasured in my heart for nearly 40 years. I am sorry to say that at this time I haven't located it. I can only tell what the artwork was like and I do remember the verse. The card was purchased, if my 75-year-old memory serves me well, at a Hallmark store in Kansas City. The picture on the front of the card shows a little stream in the snowy woods, a faint watercolor of houses in the background. That year our Christmas was going to be a difficult one, some sorrow and sadness mixed in. Now, after almost 40 years, that card and verse still yank at my heart. I still hope sometime I'll come upon it among the many "Saved" boxes in the basement and elsewhere. I would love it if there is anyone out there who might know who wrote the verse:
Now there is frost upon the hill
And no leaf stirring in the wood
The little streams are cold and still
Never so still has winter stood.
— Sally J. Wiebe, Derby
I have a very cherished Christmas card sent to my great-grandparents and their 2-year-old daughter (my grandmother) in 1897. My grandmother would put it out every Christmas, with the Bible open to the story of the birth of Christ. We would look at it and hear the story every Christmas. I continue to put it out every year.
Inside the card reads:
With Best Wishes for a Happy Christmas
To: Mr. & Mrs. W.J.Boyer & Helen
From: Sherman Holaday 1897
— Bari Garst, Wichita
I bought it in a bundle of cards about 15 years ago in an antique shop. I display it every year at Christmas and have always been struck with the frugalness and patriotism it represents. The back of the card has a postage mark of Dec. 16, 1942, and has another stamp on it encouraging us to buy war bonds! It was a great piece of realia to share with my then-young kids about World War II and all the sacrifices given by all Americans. The homemade card reads:
We could have spent a nickle
We could have spent a dime
And bought a fussy Christmas Card
That had a swellish rhyme.
But Uncle Sam has told us
to save our nicks and dimes
So here's a Merry Christmas
In the spirit of the times.
Ruth and Scottie
Behind the verse is drawn a big blue V for victory. I really cherish this card and what it represents.
— Connie Chance, Augusta
I was inspired by a Christmas card of the three kings to try to make a small wall hanging from it. My wall hanging is 14 inches by 21 inches, all hand quilted. I made several myself and while I was still working at our local refinery I talked our Thursday noon sewing group into each making one.
— Virginia Amend, El Dorado
My sister and I share a Christmas card that we’ve sent back and forth for 30 years.
I just got the card from my sister. She had it this year. I keep it for a year, and so far we’ve been lucky — it’s never been lost.
Whoever has it writes a couple of lines about the more notable things that happened in her family over the past year. We’ve stapled sheets of paper to it like a booklet.
The card was one I had bought and sent to her when she was living in Montana and she kept it the first year and we started sending it back and forth. We thought, let’s try this and see how long it lasts. It’s interesting for me to look back.
— Beverly Klag, Wichita