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Christmas Cards | Mary's Farm

Christmas Cards | Mary’s Farm
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Marys' Farm: Stack of Christmas CardsMy mother’s favorite part of the Christmas season was the exchange of cards. “It’s the one time of year I get to hear the news,” she would explain. She did not live far from where she was born and raised, but many of her friends, following the end of World War II, had settled in faraway places.

Sometime in November, she would set up the card table in her bedroom, organize the cards and envelopes around her, and begin. Like a scholar bent over an important work, she would spend days crafting her cards, writing each one individually. In her round, open script, she shared what mattered to each of these far-flung friends. A little tower of plump sealed envelopes would slowly rise beside her. Once, in the 1950s, a cousin of hers began the tradition of sending out typed newsletters, not even signed personally. My mother felt cheated by this mass production of the yearly greeting.

She always tried to get her cards into the mail by the first week of December. She sent them off as if on the wings of carrier pigeons. She expected something in return, and her wish was always granted. Waiting for the mail truck to ease away from the mailbox, she would pull on her coat, wrap her head in a woolen scarf, and tuck her feet into her fleece-lined boots for the walk up the driveway, often through new-fallen snow. She would return, clutching the thick, square envelopes, sometimes red or green, like prizes. “There’s one from Claire!” she would exclaim. Claire, her next-door neighbor growing up, was by then living in Florida, and she always wrote the long messages for which my mother hungered.

My mother wouldn’t open the cards right away but leave them unopened on the hall table. When my father would come home from work, they opened them together and sometimes read them out loud. My sister and I would sit with them and hear about friends like Claire, whom we had never met but about whom we knew a great deal.

Some of my friends today have abandoned sending cards. Too expensive. Too time-consuming. But, like my mother, I never want to lose touch. Without Christmas cards, I would never know that the little boys I once babysat for are now men with interesting jobs and children about to go away to college. How can it be? I wonder. Another friend is in remission from her cancer. Another is getting divorced, and yet another married. All that life has to offer seems to unfold on this little Christmas stage, which, for my mother, began at a card table.

And so, starting in November, I settle at the kitchen table and begin to write. My mother would be disheartened to know that most of us, by now, have adopted the method of her forward-thinking cousin, recounting the major events of our year in newsletter style. For the rest, the part that counts, I sometimes stay up till midnight, scribbling personal notes, watching snow fall, and, in the morning, mail them off with lots of love and the strong hope of a return.

The View from Mary’s Farm, a collection of Edie’s Yankee Magazine essays, plus her new book, Saturday Beans and Sunday Suppers, are available at

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5 Responses to Christmas Cards | Mary’s Farm

  1. Richard Lapointe December 24, 2007 at 6:22 pm #

    Like Edie’s Mom, I particularly look forward to “The View from Mary’s Farm” the same way she looked forward to her correspondence with “old friends.” I also remember my “old friend”…”The Garden at Chesham Depot.” Edie Clark has always been a breath of fresh air for this old “Boston city boy.” I used to drive a truck for Preston “the 151 Line” Trucking and was in the Keene – Peterborough- Jaffrey triangle everyday on my way back from the Bellows Falls, VT terminal. How I grew to love the Monadnock region of New Hampshire. Edie was able to bring it to me in such a personal way through her exquisite writing ability. I remember delivering to places like Harrisville, East Swanzey, and, of course the fence guy on the hill in Chesham Depot who also raises goats. When he took me into his barn to witness the calfing of new animals, I knew I was surely in Heaven. My sincere thanks to Yankee and a heartfelt “I love what you do” to Edie Clark. Sometimes life’s greatest treasures arrive in the mailbox on a printed page. I look forward to the next issue.


    Rick Lapointe

  2. joan orrall December 25, 2007 at 5:04 am #

    I too am a traditionalist, I enjoy sending and receiving cards from family, friends, and people whom I have met, who send an unexpected card. I love to look at all the different designs, and individual personalization that each card brings, and the personal messages, or short notes bringing us up to date on happenings. I think for .41 cents this is a worth while “gift” of precious time. Too many of our traditions are eroding in today’s world…our freedoms are falling along the roadside..let’s keep something alive, if only for once a year…Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays….J. Orrall of Whitman, MA

  3. Danielle Jeanloz December 25, 2007 at 5:23 pm #

    ….. And remember, it’s never too late to send them. Some years I get them out in the mail on time; other years they go out on Christmas Eve day; and sometimes I even send them out in June. I guess those cover me for two years. Taking the time to send out holiday cards at any time shows that you still like to celebrate life and friends. dj Chatham, MA

  4. Lou E Shellenberger October 16, 2008 at 5:24 pm #

    I have subscribed to Yankee Magazine for years. I used to keep my copies, but unfortunately my house was not big enough and I had to recycle them. I felt as if I were walking away from old friends. I now live with my daughter and again have to make choices as to what I can keep or have to pass on. I look forward to each issue and look especially for Mary’s Farm. What a joy to take a mini dream trip to New England each month.
    Now I spend time to read you on the net and go back to past issue articles much easier than having to sort thru shelves of hard copies.

  5. Marie Gennett December 21, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    We are long time Yankee subscibers (liked the small one better)I am also like my Mother, sending Christmas cards – hearing from relatives friends far away.
    A funny story my Mother would also set up a card table in her bedroom – that was a signal Christmas was coming and my poodle was there to help – she never left Mother until the last card was sent – and – then she guarded the Christmas tree and her gifts, never touching one until we said ok Santas come. She opened each and returned to us to re wrap. Guess they are smarter tthan we know – Merry Christmas

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