We are well over the half century mark and so have seen quite an evolution
of Christmas communication. We believe it is a tradition worth carrying on but do realize the format is changing.
Although this predates us I have in my possession a 1943 Christmas note posted from my uncle Lloyd to Aunt Esther & Uncle Dave sent from overseas where he was serving in the Second World War. “A note to wish you Christmas cheer and the best in 1944. … I would also like to be remembered to the Gustafsons. … Love Lloyd”. The note paper has a drawing of a Christmas cracker being pulled at by service men on 1 side & civilians on the other.
A very early Christmas memory for both Ron and I are the Christmas cards that were hung around the living room on a ribbon – this was certainly the norm in decorating back in the 1960’s. Those hand written cards kept family and friends connected in a time when long distance calling was very expensive and visits were even rarer. I have included a couple of photos of Ron and I when we were youngsters and just learning the ropes of Christmas. I couldn’t find the photo of either family in front of the cards on the wall but perhaps they are photos I have seen and don’t have in my possession.
When we were married in the 1980’s there had not been a big development in twenty years and we started our own Christmas list for cards. Ever the letter writer my cards were chock full of what we had been doing. The next big change in spreading Christmas news became the dreaded “form” letter – either hand written and copied or done on a home computer. It took me many years to embrace this change but I finally recognized that I was becoming the lone dinosaur so I went to this format while always leaving room for a personal note at the bottom.
Again it took about another twenty years for the next wave of technology to bring change. Instead of the hassle of envelopes, addresses and postage the letters began arriving via email. During the last few years we have noted a decrease in the amount of Christmas greetings that were being sent to and from. People were too busy or perhaps felt that due to email there was an overall increase in regular communication so a card wasn’t necessary. Yet we still make time over the holiday season for me to read out loud the Christmas greetings sent to us. We hope that is a tradition our children will remember. I still regularly read my mom’s Christmas cards when I am home in Ogema so that I can catch up with old family friends.
A couple of Christmases ago I noticed another trend shift and it was interesting to note that the lone dinosaur (me) was keeping up with her son in this one. On Christmas Day Spencer and I both sent out many Christmas texts and received many back. It seems I was faster keeping up with the technological change this time. I sent out over 40 messages – Spencer’s number was double that. But unfortunately with this change unless you read them aloud to your spouse or family it stays inside that little box we all seem addicted to. Another common place for greetings to be shared is on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instragram but one must have and want access to keep in touch that way.
One wonders where the next change will come and who all will embrace it. We seriously doubt that our children will ever send Christmas cards or letters in the format that we do but we do hope that they will reach out and keep in touch with those that have touched their lives as we do each year. And someday, in the bottom of our Christmas decorations box, they will find a Ziploc bag that contains all of our Christmas form letters from 1991 onward as I always print a copy and keep them as they are rather like a diary for us of what the year brought. We, of course, always included a family photo and here is ours from 2001.
I am undecided as to what format I will be using this year but do know that I have left “it” to the last minute. But then again I’m not finished my Christmas sewing or stocking stuffers either and know that somehow it will all get done. Keeping in touch with family and friends is a very important tradition so it will happen.