One of the holiday traditions in our family was the scrapbook my mother kept of Christmas cards. Beginning in 1945 – the second year my parents were married and the year my father returned from the war – she glued a sample of the card they sent out each year. She faithfully added cards up to 1998, just two years before she passed away. The following year, her health started to deteriorate, and by the next Christmas, there would be no more cards sent.
A few years later, as my brothers and I were clearing out the family home for its eventual sale, I came across the scrapbook and scooped it up. Although the anti-clutter side of me said not to, I knew that I couldn’t throw the book out. I am so grateful that I decided to keep it.
As a little girl, I remember looking through the scrapbook and marveling at all the pretty cards. Now as I look at the pages, I can see a clear timeline of my parents’ lives.
The early cards were small and simple and had their names engraved under the greeting. Several years later, when my oldest brother was born, his name was added alongside theirs.
The next three years, including the year my other brother was added to the mix, my father was trying his hand at photography and printed the Christmas cards in his darkroom. The black and white cards are somewhat unusual, but his creativity shines through.
Over the years, the cards they chose to send reflected different aspects of my parents’ personalities and interests. Their sense of humor, as well as their love of animals and travel was apparent in many of the cards. Several of the cards, instead of a traditional winter scene, depicted the desert or coastline more reminiscent of their Southern California home. And, because they supported many environmental and social causes, they often purchased their cards through such organizations as UNICEF, the Sierra Club, and the National Wildlife Federation.
The last card in the scrapbook is my favorite one of all. Its joyful message resonates with me, as it must have with my mother:
And, written on the inside:
May all that brings you joy,
may all that sustains you and gives you peace,
be yours this holiday season.
I can’t imagine a better wish for us all.