Beth Siegalkoff

Christmas cards, and the man who is credited with coming up with the concept for a commercial Christmas card, Sir Henry Cole of London, are celebrated today. Because he didn’t have time to write all his family and friends at Christmas time, Cole, commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to design a card. The first card, created in 1843, had a picture of a family celebrating Christmas together. Below, the phrase “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You” was inscribed.

The cards worked so well for Cole, he had 1,000 of them printed, which were sold for a shilling each, making them the first mass produced Christmas cards.

In 2001, one of the original cards, which were signed by Cole himself, sold for over $30,000 at auction. Louis Prang of Boston created the first American Christmas card in 1875. It was more simplistic with a picture of a flower and “Merry Christmas” inscribed.

Flash-forward to 1915, Hallmark published its first Christmas card. The standard size was 4 inches by 6 inches, folded once and inserted in an envelope.

The tradition of Christmas cards continued to change in the 21st century. New printing methods allow mass-produced custom cards. Pop-up, video and audio cards have found an audience, as have other specific types of cards for other holidays – such as Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, etc.

I love the pop-up cards and books. They just have that added extra that adds to the specialty of receiving a card.

Celebrate the day by buying or making your own cards and sending them to family and friends. Everyone likes to be remembered and you have a memory you can hold.

Speaking of memories, here is one you won’t want to miss – A “Christmas Star” will light up the sky on the Winter Solstice – a rare “double planet” event that hasn’t been seen since the Middle Ages.

These two planets have not appeared to be this close together from Earth’s vantage point since predawn March 4, 1226 – yes, almost 800 years ago!

On the evening of Dec. 21, Jupiter and Saturn will seem to inch incredibly close to each other, looking like one single bright start. In reality, they will be hundreds of millions of miles apart. If you want to catch the rare event, you’ll have to act quickly. The planets will dip below the horizon at around 7 p.m. that night. The two planets will be visible the entire last week of December. Hopefully, the sky will be clear between 6 and 7 p.m.

Have you enjoyed all the outdoor Christmas decorations? I saw a unique gate wreath that caught my eye on Twin Cities Road. It was made of palm tree fronds with a big red bow – great use of materials. I have passed several Clark Griswold homes, and homes with yards and yards of colored lights on trees and fences, and grids on lawns and roofs. It does my heart good to see people going the extra mile to bring joy to their neighborhood.

There are only 15 shopping days until Christmas; better get a move on wrapping all those treasures. Oh, and don’t forget to buy batteries. It will save you a trip to the convenience store on Christmas day.

Recipe of the day – Fudge; Flower of the day – Amaryllis

Dates to Remember:

Dec. 11 – Hanukkah

Dec. 21 – Jan. 2 – Christmas Vacation – No school, virtual or otherwise

Dec. 21 – Winter Solstice and the Christmas Star viewing

Dec. 31 – New Year’s Eve

Jan. 1 – first day of 2021

Until next week – Be strong, be courageous and make a memory.