It seems nobody sends good old-fashioned Christmas cards anymore - the sort with silver bells that deck the halls, nativity scenes, or jolly elves in Santa's workshop.
The few cards I get each year are mostly vanity cards with photos of people or pets I don't recognize - and have little if anything to do with Christmas.
For a while, vanity letters were all the rage, but they too seem to have gone by the wayside, along with foil-lined envelopes and flocking.
I'm not so much lamenting the death of the traditional card itself, as I am the ritual associated with them, and the message they delivered.
I remember my mother sitting at her card table each night the second week of December, surrounded by stacks of boxed cards she'd thoughtfully selected the week before. Mom's cards, always religious in nature, were intended to make a statement; our household celebrated the Christ in Christmas.
The cards we'd received the year before, complete with envelopes, were stacked alongside our out-going cards. Mom used a little plate and wet sponge to seal the envelopes. Each card was hand-signed, included a short personal note, and was posted with a beautiful Christmas stamp.
Each December day, I'd come home from school and flip through the newly arrived cards, looking for the popular Currier and Ives type depictions of horse-drawn sleighs, and snowy woodland landscapes. They were my favorites!
Mind you, I have nothing against today's vanity cards. In my book, anyone that takes the time, and puts forth the effort to send anything, should be commended. I have friends and family who say, they'll no longer send Christmas cards to those who won't reciprocate. That's sad, but understandable.
This year, I selected one of my favorite images - a simple, one-room schoolhouse I captured in an Old-Order-Amish community, not far from my home in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The school sits on a rise alongside a bend in a rutted, dirt road. I'd driven around one side, and past the front of the school before noticing the flash of color in my rearview mirror; two red sleds were propped against the side of the weathered, whitewashed building.
To me the image evokes, humble simplicity.
Today, there is so much glitz and glamour associated with the celebration of Christmas, that we forget the humble circumstances of the Christ-child's birth. The message of giving without the expectation of getting something in return, has been lost. We seem to be celebrating ourselves, rather than our Savior's birth.
Maybe my card will serve as a gentle reminder of what this holiday is all about.
Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel - God with US. Isaiah 7:14