Mailing Our Last Christmas Cards for 2021

This is the last of over eighty Christmas cards my family has made and sent this year. My wife made the first half of them with her mother by embossing vellum. Looks like we should get an earlier start next year!


O, Okra Tree! O, Okra Tree!

A fresh piece of okra and some craft paint can create festive holiday cards.

I cut a piece of fresh okra about a quarter inch from the the stem to reveal the okra’s five holes and make a natural stamp with the stem as a handle.
I cut the tip of the piece of okra to make berries and and Christmas bulbs.
I used red and green craft paint with the okra stamps to decorate white card stock cards that came with A7 envelopes.
The okra’s shape led me to create a wreath for one card.
The sound of the word okra reminded me of the song O Christmas Tree, so I followed the whimsical feel of the sounds and made a card captioned “O, Okra tree! O, Okra Tree.

Vegetable stamping is a great craft for kids and adults.

Which sensory experience brings back your Christmas memories?

For many it’s a fragrance that brings a memory fully to mind. Does the scent of evergreens, peppermint, mulling spices, or mothballs unwrap the holidays of the past for you?

Or is the feel of glitter, velvet, ice, or the deep warmth of a fire that makes you recall?

Which gustatory delight takes you back with its taste? Popcorn balls, chocolate covered cherries, or hot cocoa?

Is it the sound of bells, the shattering of ornaments, the tinkle of a music box, or the hoot of a toy train that harkens you to a certain moment?

Or is it the sight of glistening snow, tinsel strewn trees, or mountains of crumpled wrapping paper?

Whatever the sense, savor the memory and write it down.

Not All Is in the Cards for Sure

Unsigned Christmas cards disappoint me. Digital ubiquity has inverted my heart’s rate—one handwritten word is worth a thousand pictures. A sentiment I expressed in a poem earlier today:


Your glossy photo card

bore my address,

but wasn’t worth the

envelope’s rip without

a single letter written

by your hand.

I feel doubly disconnected when my family and friends who live afar don’t write or call. I’m addicted to social media like most Americans, but likes and emoticons are not enough. I crave audible conversation and handwritten correspondence. I cherish slow exchanges. That’s why I write something personal in each of my cards, even though I include a typewritten Christmas letter.

When my older brother Benny spent over forty minutes on the phone with me this past weekend, I was ecstatic. I felt valued when he called me back the two times our call got dropped.

In Essays After Eighty Donald Hall reflects, “Apparently Facebook exists to extinguish friendship. E-mail and texting destroy the post office. eBay replaces garage sales. Amazon eviscerates bookstores. Technology speeds, then doubles its speed, then doubles it again.”

We can sidestep the destructive impact of technology. Take a tech-free afternoon this weekend. Turn off the television. Disconnect from your electronic devices. Take a nap. Buy a card or create your own. Postage is more expensive than it used to be, but with its relatively higher price comes the sense that you care enough to pay.

Some, like Miles Brignall of the British newspaper The Guardian, worry the 147-year-old tradition of Christmas cards are endangered, as others fear for the older art of letter writing. (See my forthcoming column in this Sunday’s Press Enterprise.) Let’s make a future for personal cards and traditional correspondence.

If your budget is tight, consider sending just a few cards. If time and money allow, send a bundle. Imagine how festive you make others feel as they place your card above their fireplace or hopefully if they have received enough cards, to ornament a doorframe. But best of all, will be your signature, your personally chosen words.