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  • Writer's pictureTracy Jones

The Value of a Card

"You never know the value of a card, until it becomes a memory." Tracy Jones

For years I have saved most of the greeting cards I have received. Some because of the sender, some because of a personal note written inside, and some merely because I simply liked that card. They are kept in an assortment of boxes, among pictures and mementos. Revisited only on those random occasions that lead to a trip down memory lane. All except for the Christmas cards.

The Christmas cards that make the keepsake cut are hidden in groups within the extra wrapping paper and bows saved for next season’s use. Rediscovered each year as the house is once again brought back to holiday glory. My most treasured cards have always been from my grandparents, a generation that took the time to fill every blank space on the card with a handwritten note.

In their words, they updated me on their lives and expressed interest in mine. In their handwriting, I saw their wisdom growing with their age, never considering their mortality until the words they wrote became shaky and faint. Now that they have all passed, I see the same message in the subtext of every one of these treasured cards… If you care enough to send a card, take the time to use up the blank space.

This last Christmas was a little different for me. After losing my husband in a motor vehicle accident in 2019, Christmas pretty much ceased to exist in my home. For three seasons in a row, the decorations remained untouched in storage. I did wrap and gift presents to my friends and family during that time and continued to receive cards as well. I ended each season by tossing the cards along with the remaining roll or two of wrapping paper into the general gift wrap box. For me this is the gift wrap equivalent to a junk drawer. Thankfully 2022 was the year I found the Christmas spirit and once again brought my home to life and lights.

As I opened the decoration boxes from storage, I was filled with warm memories of Christmases past. I ran across my stash of old Christmas cards and decided to gather the ones from the general gift wrap box and find a place to display them. As I looked at each card deciding if it was display worthy or not, I realized how many people had passed away since I last decorated. All like my husband, unexpected and before their time. Their handwriting never to show the wisdom and age behind their greetings. With memories of loved ones on my mind, I placed most of the cards in a red decorative wall tin displayed close to the two stockings I hung for myself and my dog and placed the treasured ones on the mantle as beautiful reminders of a reason for the season.

Christmas is back for me, and I’ve come to realize that my life has changed to the point where I need to create new traditions for myself. I live alone, my children are grown and all live in various locations, and due to distance and schedules, this year I traveled to visit all of them but still spent Christmas day at home with my dog. I am grateful I restarted the tradition of decorating my home and displaying my assortment of cards. It filled my heart with so many moments of joy and reminded me of so many loved ones in my life. I feel the cards were a gift in themselves, an annual celebration of just how many people have been a blessing in my life. But mostly the cards have inspired me to go back to what my grandparents would do and to start a tradition of sending cards each year, making sure to take a moment to fill up the blank spaces. For you never truly know the value of a card, until it becomes a memory.

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