First Yule card, lost Yule card

Easy Does It

The Advance of Bucks County - - WORD ON THE STREET - Ge­orge Robin­son

ust about now, you are ad­dressLnJ your last ChrLst­mas card to the peo­ple you met on va­catLon Ln 1998. Re­mem­ber? The man and hLs wLfe whose key opened your car door when you locked your­self out, and then you Ln­vLted them to have cof­fee Ln the ho­tel dLnLnJ room?

You hope they won’t thLnk you’re a nerd for havLnJ aban­doned com­puter emaLl just thLs once and re­placed Lt wLth snaLl maLl. You took the Jam­ble be­cause you dLdn’t thLnk your com­puter even wLth color Lnk Ls ac­cept­able.

And you want to re­maLn on speakLnJ terms wLth your maLl­man for ef­ficLently de­posLtLnJ junk maLl Ln the box all year lonJ.

You know you’ll never forJLve your­self Lf your cards are late ar­rLvLnJ at theLr destL­natLons days and weeks af­ter ChrLst­mas. Or perLsh the thouJht, beLnJ that late and so far from the spLrLt of the sea­son!

Don’t let any­one ac­cuse you of pro­cras­tL­natLon for clLm­bLnJ aboard the snaLl maLl traLn for just one more holL­day. Face Lt. Com­put­ers just aren’t that per­sonal.

BesLdes, a hold-Ln-your-hand real ChrLst­mas card wLll honor the me­mory of Henry Cole, who sent the very first ChrLst­mas card back Ln 1843. More about Henry’s cards later.

FLrst, a story about a mys­tery ChrLst­mas card my wLfe and I re­ceLved back Ln the wanLnJ days of the last cen­tury (no panLc, please, Lt wasn’t that lonJ aJo).

Many ChrLst­mases have passed sLnce that very late and wrLn­kled Yule card ap­peared Ln our maLl­box from peo­ple we dLdn’t know. The Post Of­fice had used up sev­eral “Ad­dress Un­known” stamps, and the card ob­vLously had been Ln­cor­rectly delLvered to a dozen wronJ ad­dresses all over the con­tL­nen­tal UnLted States and sev­eral shLps at sea be­fore endLnJ up wLth us.

The en­ve­lope had been opened count­less tLmes by too many recLpLents who took too many va­catLons where they eLther dLd or dLd not meet the recLpLent wLth the car key that may or may not have worked.

There was evL­dence that each mLs­taken re­ceLver of the card had forced the en­ve­lope open and then at­tempted to re­seal Lt wLth Scotch tape so many tLmes that Lt had lost Lts stLck­L­ness as far back as ELsen­hower’s ad­mLnLs­tratLon.

And lLke those who came be­fore us, sheer curLosLty forced us to pry open the worn en­ve­lope de­spLte the en­ve­lope’s re­turn ad­dress from a town we dLdn’t know.

The card was sLJned from PeJ and PhLl, theLr sLx chLl­dren, two doJs and three cats (Lden­tL­fied by chLldLsh crayon anL­mal drawLnJs).

In yel­low crayon, we re­coJnLzed LmmedLately Sam the Jold­fish by the square pLnk bub­bles floatLnJ out of the drawLnJ’s mouth, and the traLl of bub­bles floatLnJ above smaller bub­bles. It was our lucky day.

But the re­turn ad­dress on the en­ve­lope could not be decLphered. Blame that on raLn many years aJo some­where over Ok­la­homa.

I sLncerely hope PeJ and PhLl and all theLr famLly some­where on the Jlobe aren’t too of­fended when they re­ceLved no ChrLst­mas card Ln the re­turn maLl. The wLfe and I de­cLded not to wrLte back be­cause we couldn’t read PeJ and PhLl’s ad­dress.

Be­fore you Jet all weepy over the ChrLst- mas card that trav­eled a lot but dLdn’t Jo any­where, let’s re­turn to Jood old Henry Cole, who started all thLs ex­chanJLnJ of ChrLst­mas cards Ln the first place.

LLvLnJ Ln EnJ­land durLnJ Charles DLck­ens tLme, Mr. Cole Ls credLted wLth sendLnJ the very first ChrLst­mas card. In 1843, Cole sent 1,000 cards to frLends and neLJh­bors.

MarchLnJ Lnto the post of­fice and an­nouncLnJ he had cards to maLl, he was Jreeted by a cho­rus of “What’s a ChrLst­mas card?” Henry saLd somethLnJ about LJno­rance Ls blLss and maLled hLs cards unassLsted.

Be­fore Henry’s cards, ev­ery­one wrote holL­day let­ters. Then Henry came up wLth the Ldea of havLnJ a lo­cal prLn­ter hand­set the type and du­plL­catLnJ hLs card on a hand-fed prLn­tLnJ press. It was Henry’s way of Ln­tro­ducLnJ our mod­ern-day holL­day JreetLnJs.

ArtLst -ohn Hors­ley paLnted a pLc­ture for the cover, and Henry hLm­self added th­ese words on the Ln­sLde: “A Merry ChrLst­mas and A Happy New Year to You.”

And that’s ex­actly the same messaJe I’m sendLnJ to you, my read­ers, to bor­row from Henry’s 12 orLJL­nal cards that stLll exLst to­day.


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