I am the writer in our family. If we ever have anything to write, I am generally the one to do it. Now, don’t misunderstand, my bride does her share of writing, but most of the time her writing is in a creative sort of way. By that, I mean that she writes in order to have something cute to put inside a card she happens to be making for someone special. She labors hard over cards for our kids and grandkids and sometimes even for me. But she does not spend a lot of time writing. If there is writing to do, I am the one who most of the time is doing it.
Which, if I may say so, is why you probably will not be getting a personal Christmas card from us this year. In the years when we have sent Christmas cards to family and friends, it has generally been my labor that has brought that to pass. In the past, I have done what many of you have done. I have taken the time to write one of those newsy letters about everything we have done this year, including our kids and grandkids, and all our many travels, sicknesses and the like. I have made the effort to print it off and include it in a fancy card to send out. But this year, I just did not have the time or the energy to commit myself to do it. If in the past you have received one of those newsy tomes from us, I am in advance begging your forgiveness for not doing so this year.
Thinking about my lack of foresight in not sending out those traditional greetings piqued my interest in what brought about the Christmas card tradition anyway. Reading in CT magazine (December 2022) the other day, I discovered that the Christmas card tradition dates back to the years of Queen Victoria in England. Apparently, she started sending Christmas cards to family and special friends in the 1880s. The tradition has grown into a massive array of Christmas greetings worldwide. In America alone, we send out about 1.6 billion Christmas cards every year. President Calvin Coolidge was the first American President to send out a White House Christmas card.
The tradition of sending greeting cards at this time of the year sagged a little with the rise in popularity of social media, but lately it has regained its favor among the younger generations. Card sending households mail, on average, about 30 cards, and most of those are pictures of kids and/or grandkids with a simple greeting of “Merry Christmas.”
Some years ago there was quite the debate over an acceptable greeting during this season of the year. It did not matter whether you were talking about Christmas cards or simple conversation. Should we say Merry Christmas to each other? Or is that greeting too demeaning to people who may not be of the Christian faith?
Many people opted for the “Happy Holidays” approach to that subject, in hopes that those to whom they were talking or sending cards would not be offended. Then we went through the whole “Keep Christ in Christmas” movement which was a move to get back to the “Merry Christmas” greeting. In recent times, the trend has been to go back to “Merry Christmas,” both in conversation and in Christmas greeting cards.
Well, this week I want to wish each of you who may be taking the time to read this article a very Merry Christmas. I am convinced that this holiday is a very powerful expression of the love of God for all of us, no matter what our spiritual preferences may be. It is a time when we can celebrate the fulfillment of the Scriptures which tell us that “… when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
Christmas is the one holiday where we can celebrate the fact that God expressed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
God sent us His own personal Christmas card by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, as an expression of His love. And no matter what you and I may feel about it, no matter what our neighbors or co-workers think, that one very special Christmas greeting is one that brings the joy and hope to this time of the year. It is a constant witness to the birth of the hope of the world. That is why I can take great joy in wishing each of you a very Merry Christmas!
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor who now resides in Florida. He can be reached at [email protected].