Old-fashioned Christmas cards

Nostalgia is a way of capturing time past.

At Christmas, tradition and nostalgia go hand in hand. Putting up Christmas decorations and sending Christmas cards go back at least 180 years and the idea of giving gifts recalls the Magi at the Nativity.

Today, digital snow scenes on web pages and digital Christmas cards are replacing part of that tradition. How many people still send Christmas cards by snail-mail? It’s become a global business for digital card designers like Jacquie Lawson.

We may think this is a new phenomenon, but it’s not. In 1945, the American writer and humorist Ogden Nash bemoaned vanishing traditions in his poem “Epstein, Spare That Yule Log!”. The title echoes George Pope Morris’s poem “Woodman, Spare that Tree!” (1860), but Epstein?

“When I was but a boy,
’Twas my once-a yearly joy
To arise of a Yuletide morning,
And eagerly behold
The crimson and the gold
Of the messages the mantelpiece adorning.
There were angels, there were squires,
There were steeples, there were spires,
There were villagers, and mistletoe and holly,
There were cosy English inns
With the snow around their chins,
And I innocently thought them rather jolly.
I blush for me, but by your leave,
I’m afraid that I am still naïve.

Oh, give me an old-fashioned Christmas card,
With mistletoe galore and holly by the yard,
With galumptious green and gorgeous scarlets,
With crackling logs and apple-cheeked varlets,
With horses prancing down a frosty road,
And a stagecoach laden with a festive load,
And the light from the wayside windows streaming,
And a white moon rising and one star gleaming.

Departed is the time
Of Christmases sublime;
My soprano is now mezzo-basso;
And the mantelpiece contains
The angular remains
Of a late representative Picasso.
There are circles, there are dots,
There are corners, there are spots,
There are modernistic snapshots of the city;
Or, when the artist lags,
They are livened up with gags,
You must choose between the arty and the witty.
I blush for me, but I must say
I wish you’d take them all away.

Oh, give me an old-fashioned Christmas card,
With hostlers hostling in an old inn yard,
With church bells chiming their silver notes,
And jolly red squires in their jolly red coats,
And a good fat goose by the fire that dangles,
And a few more angels and few less angles.
Turn backward, Time, to please this bard,
And give me an old-fashioned Christmas card.”


Published by

Philip Lee

Writer and musician who tries to join up the dots.

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