Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Sea of Galilee at Sunrise

Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Christmas Cards: A Ministry

On November 27 my first Christmas card arrived. Time to unearth my Christmas card paraphernalia. Now the cards, stickers, and address labels are strewn across my dining room table. Before tackling the job of preparing my cards, I reread the cards that people sent me last Christmas. I save this lovely collection for a year and enjoy reviewing the good wishes and news from family and friends. Christmas is the only time I connect with some people.

The joy I experience opening a Christmas card makes me think that I make others happy by sending them a card. In other words, this task is a spiritual work of mercy!

A Bit of History

The first commercial Christmas card emerged in England in 1843 when people wrote holiday letters to their friends. Apparently, Sir Henry Cole had a zillion friends. He was overwhelmed by the task of responding to all of them. So he came up with idea of sending a simple card and persuaded a friend to design one. Cole’s card shows a family feasting, but caused an uproar  because children were imbibing! If people back then were on social media, it would have been flooded with critical comments.

In those days people could send letters and cards for a penny! The custom of Christmas cards took off and persists today—despite that postage for a card is at least $.66.

Today’s Cards

Most modern Christmas cards are adorned with secular topics: Santa, elves, bells, candles, Christmas trees, wreaths, snow, animals, and nature scenes. Jesus looks to us Christians to spread the Good News. One way to do this is to proclaim his birth by sending Christmas cards with Mary, Jesus, shepherds, kings, and Bethlehem and a Scripture verse. This will nudge people to remember that Jesus is really the reason for the season. I make a point of sending such religious cards, except to my non-Christian friends, who receive generic holiday cards.

I also invest in postage stamps that depict the holy event that occurred on the first Christmas night. Most of these are old paintings of the madonna and child. A new traditional Christmas stamp featuring the pair will be issued in 2024. It is from the workshop of Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (1609-1685). You see it on the left here.

Receiving Cards

It’s exciting to find a stack of Christmas cards in my mailbox instead of just ads, information about Medicare, requests to renew magazines, or “air mail.” I especially like to receive cards with a handwritten note inside and those that include photos. My young grandnephews draw their own unique cards. Some adults, especially artists, also make original cards.

I display my cards on the kitchen counter and insert horizontal ones in the slats of the doors hiding my washer and dryer. At home my mother attached our cards to our big living room mirror. It’s a good custom to focus on one card a day and pray for the person or family who sent it. You can do this after Christmas before putting the cards away for next year.

Sending Cards

Writing Christmas cards is a meaningful Advent practice that keeps us mindful of Who we are waiting for. Some years I write a form letter to send to everyone, but I add a handwritten, personal message. Christmas letters can contain a word of encouragement to those who are ill, bring hope to the depressed, and convey love. They let the people who receive them know that they are worthwhile in your eyes and that you value your relationship with them.

I try to keep my Christmas card list up-to-date. This is a challenge because people move … and some die. It never fails—as soon as all my cards are in the mail, I receive one (or more) from people who weren’t on my list.

An act of charity is to send a card that will surprise someone and warm their heart. This could be a person you know or a stranger like an immigrant.

One friend spends Christmas day making out her Christmas cards. Another friend sent Christmas cards in July because then his cards would receive more attention.

Looking on writing Christmas cards as a ministry keeps it from being just another chore. While writing cards, listening to Christmas carols puts you in the mood. Here is one of my favorite Advent songs, “Long Is Our Winter.” I taught my religion class to sing it as a round.

• What is the most special Christmas card you ever received? Or ever sent?

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the history, I display my cards the same way. It’s important that the cards have a spiritual message. I like the idea of saving cards for a year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest posts

Awarded Top 100 Catholic Blog

Meet Sr. Kathleen

Jesus depends on us to spread the Good News of God’s love, offering the world hope and joy. Mary Kathleen, a Sister of Notre Dame from Chardon, Ohio, responds through writing, speaking, giving retreats, and teaching. Her motto, adopted from Eddie Doherty’s gravesite, is “All my words for the Word.”

About Catholic Faith Corner

A warm welcome to Catholic Faith Corner! May my reflections help you know and live the Catholic faith, inspire you, and touch your heart. I hope you subscribe here and occasionally comment on my posts.

Subscribe to Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


A Child’s Book
of Psalms

Here is a simple version of verses from favorite psalms, followed by a one-line prayer. Colored photos enhance the 24-page booklet.

Featured Book

Totally Catholic! A Catechism for Kids and Their Parents and Teachers

This award-winning book is being used in classrooms and by RCIA groups.

Visit My Book Store

Sister Kathleen has more than ninety books published and has worked on six textbook series. Several of her books have garnered awards from the Catholic Press Association and Multimedia International. You can buy from Amazon, but purchasing books directly from her earns more for her community.