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Late! Late! For that important annual date!

Christmas 2005, Photo taken in Madrid, Spain

I've made my own Christmas cards since childhood. In those "olden" days, I would color and address each card by hand, and ask my father for postage. As an adult, there were many holiday seasons when sending cards, much less making them, was beyond my means, thanks to the usual stresses of self-employment and single parenthood; my family's multiple December birthdays; illness--mine or a family member's; and a few years where my budget was so tight that it couldn't even include Christmas card postage. This year was going to be just right. I made my cards in October--October, folks! They were printed by mid-November. And then the illness card got played, taking me back to another childhood memory--strep infections.

Christmas 2005, Photo taken in Assisi, Italy

Once again, I am mailing Christmas cards that won't arrive before Christmas.  Last year, I was smart: my card didn't have the word Christmas in it, so I wouldn't appear late with my mailing. Ah, deadline fever. What an irritating disease. I comfort myself with knowing that many people consider December 25th the first day of Christmas, not the last; that many others have their grand celebration on Reyes / Three Kings' Day on January 6th; and that I've never had anyone send a card back to me because it arrived a few days after Christmas. We talk about Christmas "spirit" lasting all year long. I'm simply testing the market with my cards, seeing if my recipients really are maintaining that extended spirit. (How's that for rationalization?)

Christmas 2008. Ephemera from Spain sent to me by Elizabeth Disney.

This year's card will include a photographic treatment of one of the most beautiful poinsettias I've ever been given, from an equally beautiful woman named Linda. Linda was a good friend to my mother, and after my mother died, she became a good friend to me and a treasured link to my mom. She didn't have to do this. Most of my mother's friends didn't stay in touch with "us kids."  But Linda did. For nine years without fail, Linda has brought me a poinsettia for Christmas. I have come to count on those soft, beautiful, white, pink or red leaves as part of my holiday time.  And who knows, perhaps someone out there counts on receiving my card each year?  Maybe I can do for someone what Linda has done for me, at least in a small way.

Sketch, Christmas 1987

Every year I receive fewer cards, even as I send out more. I receive more E-greetings and E-cards. Some of them are truly delightful, and I'm certainly glad to get them!  But for me, not even the most delightful E-card equals the quiet, almost intimate, moment of opening an envelope to discover this year's Christmas surprise from a friend, family member or colleague within. I click on things all day long at the computer. It is such a delight to be able to hold something real rather than virtual in my hand that reminds me of some aspect of this time of year. Thus, I cling to my childhood tradition, hoping that those who receive my cards, late or otherwise, will enjoy a few special and quiet moments, feel a bit of joy, comfort, or thoughtfulness.

Poinsettia, detail. 2009

So, if you're short on receiving handheld, real-paper Christmas cards, and you'd like another, you can always drop me an e-note, and I'll be happy to send you one of mine.  As long as you don't mind not getting a card by a certain, famous deadline! In the meantime, I wish you and yours a blessed and joyous holiday season.


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