I realised yesterday that I had better get on with writing this year’s Christmas cards if I want to them to get to people in time. While I have cut back on the number of paper cards I now send, I still love to hand write a good number. Somehow, it really marks the start of Christmas proper.
Christmas cards were a big part of the season when I was growing up. My mother used to make her own, featuring her lovely drawings of penguins or girls with shopping, or carrying little Christmas trees or stars. She had a very distinctive style that was so instantly recognisable. I seem to remember the process beginning in November, with the selection of the right light weight card, the working up of different designs (there were usually about half a dozen each year) and the checking of paints and pens. My father used to write the greeting – the Merry Christmas – on the front. He was a skilled calligrapher and his writing complemented my mother’s designs. After he died, mum did the writing, often using gold or silver ink.
While she often felt embarrassed by some of her designs, especially in later years as she lost interest in the process, people loved to get them and some even collected them. She was quite selective in who got which card, rating them from very good to not so good, and sending carefully selected cards to what she considered those who should good ones or not so good ones. I vividly remember one of her cousins, to whom she always used to send a not particularly good card, telling mum how she had kept every card that had been sent in a special box. Poor mum was mortified.
Anyway, now I live in New Zealand, winter scenes of snow and firesides seem so wrong, so I always try to find Christmas cards that say ‘summer’. Cards with New Zealand birds, summer scenes and holidays now feature in my pile to write. I guess I better get on and start writing…
* The featured image is of one of the last cards my mother drew. Perhaps not her best, but one that means something to me.