Christ and Christmas Cards

Every year it seems I have less and less options when it comes to Christmas cards I  really want to write and send (no matter whether through snail mail or e-cards).  And this despite the fact that I don’t ask for much.  With regard to visuals, I seek something related to the Nativity, i.e., Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, with a slight preference toward medieval to Renaissance art.  But I am also willing to do contemporary art.  In terms of wording, I am willing to go with anything from “blank” to ultra-brief “holiday wishes,” with a preference for traditional Christmas greetings, at least for my Christian friends.  Other than those two commitments, I look for cards made from recycled paper (unless I opt for e-cards altogether).  You would think that in our contemporary overkill pre-Christmas, anything-you-want consumer culture I would have no difficulties. Think again.  The possibilities for Christmas cards are incredible of course and their diversity is increasing every year (I found a cute one yesterday that was James-Bond themed, with a woman in a glittery dress and suggestive pose announcing “I like my Christmas spirit shaken, not stirred” — what great news!).  That is, unless you expect to find a card that gestures in the direction of what I am looking for.  By next year, I fully expect to have to create my own set of Christmas cards.

one of my "finds" yesterday, when I went seeking Christmas cards

14 comments

  1. The secularization of our society proceeds apace. Amid aisles and aisles of holiday decorations at Target or Walmart, good luck finding a single item that refers to Jesus, the nativity, manger scene, etc. Possibly because someone would find it controversial or be offended? Hard to say.

      1. @Brigid Rauch – comment #4:
        I think it’s not so much a problem of “secular” corporations — who, being deeply capitalist, will sell whatever brings a profit — but about shifting consumer desires and what is considered “appropriate” in any given culture.

  2. Teresa, I have been making my Christmas cards for many years now – my list is not long, but they get a greeting from me in line with my beliefs about the season (and my taste in art!!)
    I am increasingly dismayed by the assortment of cards I receive from Catholic/Christian people with Santa/Frosty/teddy bears or the ubiquitous tree ball ornament on the front!

  3. @John Drake – comment #1:
    Yes of course, a number of religious organizations produce these — my reflections were geared more to the broader culture, i.e. those stores and shops where I would normally go to buy a birthday card.

  4. Good news! I was shopping at my local Barnes and Noble and found 10 to 15 different boxes of lovely cards with Christian themes. Some had classsic paintings of the nativity, or angels, or the wise men. Some had the music to Joy To The World, or Silent Night. They also had a nice selection of lovely Chanukah cards. Some retailers are still providing for all people.

    1. @Ron Jones – comment #5:
      Very interesting. There must be local variants, because I went to a Barnes & Noble also, and found but one measly little set that matched my criteria.

  5. I’ve found that Hallmark stores carry products suited for Christian customers, and they have an ample range of religious sentiments — some more appealing to liberal-style, inclusive thoughts, and others with more evangelical-style, confessional content. Hallmark stores also stock Dayspring cards, another company that produces a specifically Christian line, although I understand you can get Dayspring cards at a better price on the web.

    I just looked on the back of my Hallmark card box, and it says “Cards made with paper from sustainably managed forests.” I like that! (And, no, I do not have stock in the company. 😉 )

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Pierpont Morgan Library here in New York are wonderful sources of exquisite fine art cards from the great patrimony of western religious art, although most carry only a generic greeting or no words within. The ones I have do not boast of ecological commitments, but that may be coming… who knows?

  6. Check out the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Children’s Art Project. There are several cool Christmas cards with Nativity scenes. “First Christmas” and “Guiding Star” are two of my favorites.

  7. While the majority of offerings do seem to be ‘secular’, I have not had any difficulty in finding genuine ‘Christmas’ cards of requisite artistic value, even at Barnes & Noble’s. For those who can afford them, Crane’s stationers also offer some very nice ‘religious’ cards. Others may be had from the National Cathedral in D.C., and others from a number of monasteries. Actually, some of the better quality winter forest-scapes are so nice that I almost wish that I could use them, but I won’t. Isn’t it odd: most of the cards one sees are so awful or tasteless that one thinks that ‘nobody will buy them’… and most of them are still there on sale after Christmas.

  8. Probably too far away for most readers of this blog, but the SVD in Ireland have been producing quality Christmas cards for as long as I can remember – and for some years before that. As a novice and a philosophy student, when we had “work time”, two afternoons a week, one possible assignment was the print shop where, as Christmas came nearer, we’d help out making up and packing orders. Most of the Irish Hierarchy, and other religious communities, bought our cards, which we overprinted for them. We had a separate wall in one of the lounges dedicated to our own cards that had ‘come back’ suitably signed in some cases. Still a major source of income for the SVD Irish/British province, with the money going to support SVD’s doing language training in Ireland, retired missionaries, and some overseas projects. I’m sure they’d welcome overseas orders.

  9. I have purchased cards from monasteries and other religious organizations in recent years. Brother Mickey McGrath recently gave a talk at my parish and I purchased some of his lovely cards (Seen at http://www.beestill.org)

    In past years, I have also found cards at Barnes and Noble, although the selection is, as referred to already, spotty, for whatever random reason. And as Rita adds, the Hallmark store always has many choices. And they are all half price and seemingly readily available, the day after Christmas. I just never go out to shop the day after Christmas, that’s all!

  10. Oh dear, I just discovered that I have to add another criterion to my list: I want Christmas cards that use inclusive language in biblical translations, i.e. not state “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men [sic].”

  11. My sister married into a family with the last name “Weismann.” Props to her, because for over 10 years the Christmas card from the Wesimann family has a picture of the 3 Wise Men.
    Get it?

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