Every year I take great comfort when we get Christmas cards with pictures of friend’s kids older than ours. It gives me hope that we can make it another year without a full scale revolt from our daughters. In a similar fashion, I always make sure there is somebody older than me playing professional baseball. It always meant that maybe I still had a chance to make the big leagues. I am sorry to report that my prospects look bleak at this point. Tim Wakefield is the only player my age in the league, and he is a few months younger than me. Even worse, he may have played his last game, but I digress.
Back to the subject at hand. I love sending Christmas cards. I love getting Christmas cards. At home we definitely love the daily trip to the mailbox and examining the wide variety of cards people send especially the picture cards.
The technology of Christmas cards has advanced at an incredible rate since our kids have been babies. We started back in the days of the scheduled sitting with the photographer, reviewing proofs a couple of weeks later, and then waiting for the cards to be produced. All in all this was about a six week process. It's not easy explaining to kids why they are in dresses on a silver sleigh when they still have a bag full of Halloween candy at home.
With digital pictures and a computer, the design process now only takes about an hour and production time can range from a couple of days to a couple of hours if you are in a hurry. No more sitting fees, no more proofs, no more horrible backdrops.
Despite all the changes, we have maintained some constants with our cards to the point where they are now traditions. For anyone on our Christmas card list, here are some things you can count on:
- A big picture of the kids on the front, rather than the montage approach.
- A hand embossed return address with a machine I bought 15 years ago.
- A Madonna and Child postage stamp
- A hand cancellation from the Chartley Post Office
In these tumultuous times I fear these simple traditions are all at great risk. At any time over the next few years, the kids may stop letting us use their picture on the card, my old address embosser may break, the government may stop issuing stamps with religious images, and/or the Chartley Post Office may get shut down with the stroke of a pen. Until then, our card will look different every year but it will remain exactly the same.