Over the Hill

In defense of the written holiday card

Do you find nowadays that you’re receiving more e-mail Christmas cards? I think Mamie and I do, although it’s still a trickle.

At the same time, we’re getting fewer postal Christmas cards, but I don’t blame that on the e-mail cards. I blame it on the calendar.

As the years pass, we have fewer friends still standing. Our Christmas card list has several crossed-out names.

If I were younger, I’d probably also favor these modern e-mail Christmas cards — but I’m not and I don’t. I still like to get a card I can hold and know that a friend or relative has actually held it too and personally written on it. Handwriting is distinctly personal, like a fingerprint and unlike a printout.

Handwriting isn’t mechanical; it has a personal tone like our voices do. It can be neat or careless, calm or nervous, shy or flamboyant. It can be firm or arthritic or trembling.

As we get Christmas cards, I hang them in our family room. I hook them to red Christmas ropes stretched across the wall behind the stereo. Let’s see you do that with e-mail cards.

And I hang every card, even the ones from the Food Bank and Jimmy Carter.

But I get even more pleasure out of sending than receiving. Every card that I write in, sign and address stirs up memories.

While writing a card to one couple, I remembered the bassinet they loaned us when Mamie was expecting our first baby, our son, Mike.

We lived in a little apartment on the back of our landlord’s house, and they lived next door in a converted storage shed behind the husband’s parents’ house.

We’ve shared pleasures and problems ever since, although we have long since lived hundreds of miles apart.

I was also warmed when I wrote Christmas cards to people we’d met a few years later in the new tract where we bought our first house. Our lives have taken many twists and turns since then.

The same is true of guys I was in the Army with and people who attended our wedding 57 years ago.

Tears came to my eyes as I wrote the Christmas card to a former neighbor of my dad’s back in New York state. She helped him in the last weeks of his life.

I felt moved knowing our friends and relatives would actually hold those very cards I was writing on.

I felt that somehow I was talking with them. I hope my handwriting had a friendly tone.

Reach Phil Dirkx at phild2008@sbcglobal.net or 238-2372.