"Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas." ~ Johnny Carson
In the early 19th century it was customary to drop-a-line envelopes filled with seasonal messages on calling cards or in letters to both family and friends at the holidays.
As a marriage of art and technology, Sir Henry Cole founder of London's Victoria and Albert Museum commissioned artist John Calcott-Horsley to whip up a card displaying jovial folks enjoying the festivities of the season paired with images of feeding and clothing the poor and the words "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."
Back then Christmas cards were expensive because they were individually crafted and delivered in person. Faced with a predicament of mountains of Christmas greetings to send, in 1843 Henry Cole invented the first printed Christmas cards.
Delivered by mail or carried by hand, many still send and receive Christmas cards. Embellished with images of gingerbread houses, sparkling landscapes, Santa Claus tumbling down a chimney, rooftops cluttered with reindeer, googly-eyed cats tied up in ribbons, red-faced and hysterical babies presented on Santa's knee or an ornery dog writing holiday greetings in the snow... we've all gotten them and sent them just the same.
Sending cards through the mail, for many, is a way to celebrate the holiday season, be it Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa. As an expression of acknowledgment to those we share time with throughout the year, we toil over notes of recognition.
But with the rising cost of mail services, not to mention the price of the cards themselves, shopping for them, and then being faced with an inability to compose something meaningful and witty Ecards have become the twenty-first-century replacement for a pile of envelopes stuffed thought the holiday mail slot.
While deemed impersonal or déclassé by many, Ecards are eco-friendly (no paper, no ink, no trucking, no shipping, no packaging, no displaying, blah, blah, blah), and they leave infinitesimally tiny environmental footprints.
But if your "Ho-Ho-Ho" message must be delivered in that time-honored tradition of ink-smears, remember that blots from a pen are easily removed from cloth by placing lemon juice directly onto the spot. Allow it to sit overnight before laundering as usual. Repeat if necessary before drying.
Hand written or hand typed, meaningful words of joy make the holidays what they are. No matter what holiday is most meaningful to you at this time of year (or if none are), I send you my best wishes for a happy holiday season, and the hope for a brighter future for us all.
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