Annual concern, choosing right Christmas card

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2002

The time has come. Choices await. The annual selection of Christmas cards begs our attention.

Lists grow longer each year; stamps, more expensive. Questions arise – address the envelopes by hand or use the computer? Maybe this is the year to send electronic cards.

Scratch this one off the list? Add that one? Send only to out-of-town friends and family? Write personal notes on all of them? For each card sender, traditions control most of the choices made each year. That includes the very selection of the card.

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The card industry has figured out that tastes in Christmas greetings run the gamut, from religious to irreverent, and from beautiful to homely, depending entirely on the eyes and views of the buyer.

We wonder what leads a card sender to choose one Christmas card or another, with all the possible choices out there.

Some will always go with a religious theme. There may be Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus in a manger scene; the shepherds looking at the famous star in the cold night sky, the wise men on their camels bearing gifts to the newborn king, a lone angel afloat above the earth with trumpet to announce the good news.

Others prefer cards that depict the season, picturesque and evoking images of winter wonderlands – the snow-draped fir trees, the snowy city street lit by flickering old-fashioned lanterns, children building a snowman, a cozy house with wreath on the door and candles in the window, heavy-hoofed horses pulling a sleigh full of merry-makers dressed in woolens and fur.

Some make the easy choice, selecting a simple phrase of “Holiday Greetings” or “Wishing You a Merry Christmas” with the words embossed in red or green on plain white and edged in gold – and no picture or scene to embellish it. Easy come, easy go. And there is plenty of room to write a message to add the missing personality.

Another choice is the card with cartoon-like figures, such as the rotund Santa Claus and his “Ho, Ho, Ho” rising from the chimney where he is stuck; the Rudolph whose red nose has grown to Pinnochio dimensions for comic effect; or the exaggerated palm tree decorated with Christmas ornaments sent by the friend in Southern California.

A growing favorite is the plain card into which a photograph can be inserted. The choice of photograph sends a message, too. It may be a couple with their beloved pet; a family group of 20 crossing three generations; or maybe just the newest family members.

And this year, of course, many patriotic themes are popping up among Christmas card selections – a traditional green wreath, with the American flag flowing in the center and red and green ribbons billowing softly above; or a map of the United States, crowned by a golden eagle with a simple “Greetings” embossed in color across the center.

The array of choices could boggle the mind, but confusion usually passes easily. With a click as elusive as the sound of Santa’s reindeer on the roof, we somehow connect with just the the right card. And with the greetings of love, peace, joy and merriment, we send something inexplicable from deep inside ourselves.

Joan Gandy is special projects director of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at (601) 445-3541 or by e-mail to