VINCENNES, Ind. — As a little girl, Theresa Hutchison remembers sitting around the dining room table at Christmastime and watching her parents, ever so lovingly, write little messages in their holiday cards.
Now, years later, it’s become a tradition all her own.
“I have the best memories of watching my parents write out their Christmas cards,” she said, her voice warm with the memory. “They’d write little messages in each one. And they would mail out hundreds.
“I’d get so excited of an evening because when my dad got home from work, we’d open them together, read them and hang them around the door frames in our living room. Even then, I knew they were important because they were displayed so prominently.”
Today, Hutchison, herself, sends out upwards of 60 cards each year, and still prominently and proudly displays the ones she receives.
Last year she even decided to send out a card on behalf of her dog, an English cream Goldendoodle named Murphy.
“He was sitting there by the tree looking so handsome, so I took his picture,” Hutchison said with a chuckle. “I made him his own Christmas card and mailed them out to all his doggy friends.
“My kids made so much fun of me,” she said with a laugh. “They thought I’d lost my mind.”
Despite the booming digital age, Hutchison isn’t alone in her love of what some might consider an old-fashioned tradition.
According to the Greeting Card Association, Americans purchase about 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Of those, about 1.6 billion are Christmas cards, and annual retail sales total $7-$8 billion.
John Martin, postmaster at the U.S. Post Office at 420 Broadway St., said he and his employees start preparing for the Christmas card rush months in advance.
As the postal service issues its holiday stamps — a reveal for which all post office employees eagerly await — Martin said he orders thousands to keep up with demand.
“They’ll issue three or four different kinds,” he said, “and I’ll initially order a thousand of each. Then, as it depletes, I’ll order even more.”
Martin said residents come in sometimes as early as Thanksgiving to purchase hundreds of holiday stamps. The demand is steep, he said, but employees manage to keep up.
“Thousands of Christmas cards come through here each year,” he said. “And it’s not uncommon for people to drop hundreds of dollars for stamps.
“Christmas cards certainly are not out of fashion,” he said with a chuckle.
For Christmas card lovers like Heidi Hinkle, Christmas cards actually become a part of their beloved holiday décor.
Hinkle sends out several holiday cards each year, and the ones she receives are displayed for all to see. But instead of throwing them away as the Christmas season draws to a close, she packs them away with her decorations for something even more special the following year.
“I put them away with our ornaments,” she said. “Then, when we get them out the next year, my kids and I unfold them and cut them into strips, usually so that a part of the picture is showing. Then my kids make paper ring chains — just like you used to do in kindergarten — and we hang it on our Christmas tree as garland.
“They’re colorful, the kids love doing it and I just love looking at everyone’s pictures,” she said.
Hinkle, too, includes in her own Christmas cards a personal letter letting friends and family know of the previous year’s goings-on, things like her kids’ accomplishments, important changes, etc. Last year, she said, she got married and couldn’t wait to share each loving detail.
“And at the end of every letter, I tell them they mean a lot to us, that we care about them and love them,” she said.
And therein lies why many card-lovers hope the tradition never fades away.
“Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but when I get cards on social media or in an email, while it’s nice, it’s just not the same,” Hinkle said. “It’s not the same as coming home from work and finding that card in the mail, something to physically touch, something that someone put time and love and effort into sending.
“It’s just a way of loving on people.”
And Hutchison agrees.
“We’ve turned into an electronic people,” she said. “And I post ‘Merry Christmas’ on Facebook for sure, but I look forward to getting those cards in the mail.
“It’s fun to sit, address all those cards just like my parents used to,” Hutchison said. “It brings back so many fond, childhood memories.”
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