It started with a just-married RN working the night shift at a hospital in the DC area. Doodles became an idea for Christmas cards one year. And one year became fifty years of a hand-made Christmas cards tradition.
My parents, incorporated. Approximately 150 Christmas cards went out every year for the majority of years. Now it’s something like 85 or so.
It started as a tedious process of tracing the design outline on each and every card with a black Flair pen. Splashes of wide-tip marker color were added next, and then the greeting inside the cards was penned with Flairs.
Simple doodles evolved to more intricate card designs over the years. Tracing evolved to outlining one card and photocopying it. Then I was brought in to do the outline on computer and to fill any object intended to be completely black, like the black in high-stepping dancers card directly below.
The same special card stock that’s been used from day one is still used, 4” x 10” strips cut so they’re tidily foldable to 4” x 5”. And all the rest of the individual touches—the marker splashes and greetings—are still done by hand.
Growing up, I remember this Christmas card-making tradition as being a tremendously time-consuming affair that had to somehow be worked around the myriad school, church and musical events we were involved with. It wasn’t uncommon to be stressing over the cards deep into December.
Apparently, this was the deal even when I wasn’t around yet. My mom remembers one push to complete the last few cards still in progress on Christmas Eve. This would be the infamous stick-deer pictured in the first photo at the top of this post. From what I hear, these deer exemplified the case of looking simple, being miserable. Their little red bow-ties were the hold-up, ironically being individually cut from a roll of shiny red tape.
The crazy things we do for love, the love here being about allowing a tradition as lovely as Christmas to be the reason for succumbing to the wanted, needed boundaries of one’s own tradition, a tradition of exercising a desire and a skill and to offer the result of those two things up for whatever it’s worth. And like any worthy effort, if you feel your mental and physical resources maxing out, that is your sign and your reward.
Click here for more on prompt “#140 – Tradition” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.