While visiting a farm, my friend Lance thought the animals and bucolic setting would make for a perfect Christmas card. His wife, Emma, however, was not interested in posing. Lance was undeterred. He would get his Christmas photo with or without her. Fast-forward to December, and I open his card. There, beneath lettering that read “Merry Christmas from Lance and Emma,” was a photo of my smiling friend—posing with a donkey. If you enjoy holiday cards that make you smile—or shed a tear—read on.
It was December 2015, and my mother was living in a senior-care center. I noticed that the highlight of the day for the residents was when the mail was delivered. Then and there, I vowed to write my mom a “holiday” postcard every day so that she would always have something to look forward to. I live over 2,000 miles away and have not missed this daily activity of communicating with her, regardless of where I am in the world. I’m up to 1,255 straight days. —Jack Elliot, College Station, Texas
I’d just moved into my first apartment when I received my first Christmas card. On the front, Donner was motioning toward Santa in the back and telling Blitzen, “Psst! We’re ditching the fat guy at the next stop!” I loved it! The message inside read: “Hi, Tina, it was nice to meet up with you and hang out. I hope we can do it again. Love, Sandy.” Now, here’s the thing: My name is Cathy, and I have no clue who Tina and Sandy are. That didn’t stop me from keeping the card. And come the holidays, it still gets hung up with all my other Christmas cards. —Catheryn Ireland, Salt Lake City, Utah
Left to Right: Courtesy Dana Weinstein, Courtesy Pat Arredondo, Courtesy Debbie Slocum
The Weinsteins do Springsteen! In the past, we’ve also riffed on the Avengers movie poster and Lego Star Wars. —Dana Weinstein, Maplewood, New Jersey. These stories of true Christmas miracles will restore your hope for the holidays.
A white Christmas is rare in Texas, so when this one occurred, we wanted to preserve it for our Christmas card. Little did we know that our dog was helping with the decorations. —Pat Arredondo Waco, Texas
My 11-year-old daughter bet me that she could still fit in the dryer. I took the bet and lost, but at least I got a Christmas card out of it. —Debbie Slocum, Churchville, New York
One year I was late getting my Christmas cards ready. So I went online, found a generic card, uploaded my photo, and hit send. A few days later, I got the box of cards. There was the photo I’d uploaded, along with some strange couple’s names on it. Seems I neglected to erase the generic names and replace them with mine. What could I do? I sent them out that way. The response from friends was unanimous: “Best card ever!” —Denise Knaub, Douglas, Wyoming
Left to right: Courtesy Autumn Vallecorsa, Courtesy Mary Potter Kenyon, Courtesy Jane Galat
My husband and I have tried to make Christmas unique since 2007. One card saw us re-create a scene from our favorite movie, A Christmas Story, with my husband dressed in a large pink bunny suit holding a BB gun. And no, he didn’t shoot his eye out! —Autumn Vallecorsa, Upland, California
I was always good about sending Christmas letters every year, but that changed in 2012, the year my husband died. I just couldn’t bring myself to write the traditional cheery note. And yet I didn’t want to forgo the Christmas greetings altogether. Using an online card company, I uploaded a photo of my husband’s gravestone, then added these words: “Live like you are dying, love with all your heart, and laugh at the only card you will ever receive with a tombstone on it.” It may have seemed irreverent to some, but to me it meant I was healing. I’d retained my odd sense of humor … and I’d managed to get out Christmas cards! —Mary Potter Kenyon, Dubuque, Iowa
I was ten years old in 1943. Santa did not come that year, because of the war, but that was all right. A most precious gift came in the form of the above holiday card sent from my brother, Johnnie. It was colorful, happy, and signed simply “PFC Johnnie.” I cherished it. A year later, during the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest, Johnnie was killed. I lost Johnnie, but I still have his card. —Jane Galat, Winchendon, Massachusetts
I once had the opportunity to have a photo taken with First Lady Barbara Bush. I made it my holiday postcard and signed it “Merry Christmas from June & Babs.” I received many wonderful and surprised responses, including one from an older couple at my church: “I’m so glad you went to visit Mrs. Whitlock. She looks so happy to see you.” —June R. Love, Alcoa, Tennessee. For more Christmas tales, read up on these stories of kids meeting Santa.
As an African American, I especially appreciate Christmas cards that depict African American scenes. My favorite? A card with an African American Santa. He was spray-painting Frosty the Snowman … black. —Sharon Fields, Paris, Kentucky
Left to right: Courtesy Sue Rawley, Courtesy Phyllis Gertney, Courtesy Yvonne Sharpless, Courtesy Susan Jamison
My son is a photographer whose favorite holiday models are my grandsons. Believe it or not, they really do get along. —Sue Rawley, Houston, Texas
In 2015, my husband passed away after battling dementia, which robbed him of the power of speech. Three years later, I discovered a Christmas card he’d intended to give me before his dementia worsened. Though prewritten, it said all the things he longed to say but couldn’t verbalize: “For hanging in when things have not been easy / For all the comfort that your touch has brought me / For all the joy your smile’s brought to my life / I love you and I’m grateful you’re my wife.” Every Christmas I read his card again, sensing that he is speaking to me from beyond. —Phyllis Gertney, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania
My grandmother sent the card below to my grandfather before they were married, 107 years ago. It’s so old, the stamp was only one cent. —Yvonne Sharpless, Sheffield, Pennsylvania
Our daughter and her entire family were HUGE Downton Abbey fans. Since their last name is Dolieslager, it wasn’t too much of a leap to this holiday card. —Susan Jamison, Ripon, California
Our friend’s card featured a boisterous woman wearing a Santa hat while holding a bottle of Manischewitz wine and a jar of borscht, and singing, “Borscht is reddish; Manischewitz is bluish. Happy holidays from someone who’s Jewish!” —Susan Davniero, Lindenhurst, New York. Here’s the history behind your favorite Christmas traditions.