View From Hickory Heights: Putting Things Away

Epiphany is now past. That is the day to celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men. We always left our tree up until after Jan. 6. Putting things away is not as pleasant as getting them out and putting them up.

As I carefully put the fragile glass ornaments away, I remember when they decorated the tree at home. My grandma had a lot of ornaments. I especially remember a little coffee pot that was on our tree every year.

This year I hauled out the ornament that marked my husband and my twenty-fifth anniversary. I also hauled out Dick’s old Santa ornament that he got from his aunt Evie.

I will leave the country scene out a little longer since it has no sign of Christmas. There is a house, a barn with a silo, and a log school house. There are children rolling snowballs and skaters on the pond. Everything reminds me of winter.

The Christmas cards must along be logged into my address book, then put away. Since I received some cards from people I did not send any to, I have some letters to write. I do not want to lose contact with those people in fact, I told one lady that it is a shame that we only communicate at Christmas. Maybe I will do something different this year and keep in contact with her throughout the year.

I am all for sending cards, any time. When my husband was ill, I remember how receiving a card lifted his spirits. People think if they keep in touch via Facebook or some other media, they are doing fine. I think a little differently. There is nothing like a personal touch.

Cards provide a tangible greeting that allows you to stay connected to friends and relatives. My mother, my grandmother, and my mother-in-law sent many cards throughout the years. As they got older, I found that a gift of a box of cards was welcome. I usually tucked in some stamps so they were ready to send some greetings.

I belonged to a neighborhood club. We met at the different homes once a month. For a while the children attended with me. Later on, I got one of the neighborhood girls to babysit.

The club had a card secretary. As long as I attended the club Barb made sure the cards went out for various occasions. You could count on getting a card from club for your birthday and anniversary. If you happened to fall ill and Barb knew about it you also received a thinking of you or get-well card. If a family member died, a collection was taken up for flowers or a memorial. You also received a sympathy card from the club. It was nice to know someone was thinking of you.

I never thought much about the function of cards until my husband was sick. I saw how cards changed the tone of his day. When a card arrived, it was like magic. Those pieces of cardstock with pretty pictures and inspiring verses let him know someone was thinking of him and that pleased him. At that point he was not going out much.

For some, a card or note is like a trip out. They connect with someone from outside the home and that is important. They say when you are really sick, attitude means a great deal. If for no other reason, I see greeting cards as having a legitimate purpose.

If you really want to make someone feel special, send them an old-fashioned card. There are plenty of sources for cards these days that are not that expensive.

I remember receiving mail. When I recognized the writing, I got very excited, in fact I quickly went somewhere alone so I could read it. I could not wait to see what the message was.

Will the habit of sending cards die out with the older generation? It is hard to tell. I have seen many young people purchasing cards so they must like them. Must be they like receiving them, too.

Think of about ten people who might enjoy hearing from you. Pick out a box of cards and surprise some friends and neighbors with a greeting. For less than the cost of a gallon of gasoline, you can purchase the cards. Add the cost of postage and you still spent less than you would have to make a personal trip.

Mark Twain said, “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.” That is as true today as it was back in his day. I always feel good when I know that I have done something to please someone.

Give a box of cards and some stamps to a shut-in. Better yet help them write some messages. Go to a nursing home for a visit. While you are visiting help your friend send some cards. Read to them. For a minimal effort you are bound to receive more than you give in this process.

Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, right where you are.” That is it, folks. We can all be ambassadors of good will – wherever we are.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at