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Chatterbox: Cheering up with a deadline


I just finished taking all the Christmas cards we received out of my windows. Most Chattereaders know that, for me, Valentine’s Day is my personal Christmas teardown deadline.

Christmas, alone, has so many celebratory facets that it gets particularly hectic. Other holidays often occur around the same time and can be just as hectic. For many of us, they combine and, ultimately, their perfunctory tasks come together in a “drown-pour.”

Like many of us, I’m too busy to enjoy each and every card as it comes in. Of course, everyone reads the personal notes inside and shares family newsletters over dinner, but staring at the magnificent artwork or noticing how the card represents its sender’s feelings doesn’t seem to get much dialog (unless, of course, my husband is complaining about the glitter).

So, perhaps, Valentine’s Day isn’t Christmas teardown day for all of us. Judging from some front doors I saw last year, that may be sometime in June, but whenever it is, it’s a good time to spend time with anything that got kicked to the back burner during the rush in December.

Most people really do take thought and put great effort into their annual greetings. There are pictures, notes, or family newsletters with multiple photos that warm us and keep us abreast of our friends’ and relatives’ lives, but even if it’s just a pre-signed, pre-made card, it will represent something they love and want to share.

So, this year, taking top prize in my annual, personal, spectacular holiday card contest was a card from a dear friend of whom I’ve spoken before. She and her husband raise organic beef on a lovely farm in Lancaster. It’s a ton of hard work 364.25 days a year, but their work is their life; they love it and their Christmas card this year shows it.

Unfortunately, for my husband, it did have a bit of glitter but its wonderful illustration showed a sparkling red barn and tractor as the centerpieces of its holiday vignette in the snow. The tractor was draped in garland and surrounded by gifts and one sweet chicken freezing her feathers off. They were all set amidst snow covered trees. Inside the card … yup, the cow, carrying a milk pail dressed in holly … how perfect. This winner now sits on my desk, amidst my waterfalls of Post-it notes.

Coming up second in my heart was a modest little greeting sent from a dear friend and darling gal in Ohio. This card was covered in a swatch of burlap and red gingham. Just the sight of it gave me the holiday shimmers. Simple text featured the opening line of a classic Christmas song which got me humming, and I realized we all need more of that every day. That doesn’t mean Christmas music, per se, but any kind of music that lightens our mood. Granted, I play Christmas music all year, and it’s an absolute must when I’m baking.

Finally, there was the tie for third place between two very different sides to holiday greeting cards. One was a wonderful soft illustration of a snowy woodland scene where the classic Santa Claus, small animals, and large Christmas tree typified the peace of the season we should have all year. The other card simply quoted Charlie Chaplin, “A day without laughter is a day wasted,”… not really tinsel and holly, but still a wonderful thought for all.

Always stellar is any wonderful scene of the Nativity and the Magi and, requiring a category all its own, any card that ever came from our dear friend in Colorado. She and her husband always send unique, three-dimensional artwork that simply must be saved forever. Like Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, these cards defy awards as they set the bar too high for all others. I mentioned to my friend that she should stop sending cards worthy of mounting. We laughed, but that’s her thing and, like Christmas until Valentine’s Day is mine, we all have one.

So much goes unnoticed in the hectic weeks of December that, perhaps, any tear down day is the best day to celebrate the magic of the personal, holiday card. We all choose them, tilting our head and regarding them as they will be regarded by their recipients. We all want them to reflect our heartfelt feelings about the winter and the holiday season. We judge them by how well they convey our holiday vibe to those who read them.

Even on a February teardown day, no good holiday glitter goes unappreciated.