We turn into children a bit if we have little grand kids to play with. But even adults enjoy taking a drive through a particularly colorful neighborhood where lights and lawn decorations beckon. We decorated lavishly when our kids were little but now I settle for getting cards out every couple of years or so.
With my signal down for two days, I put my mind to Christmas cards and toward the end of my list, I got weary and decided to phone old friends I hadn’t seen, nor heard from. Numbers change and I regret not keeping up with old friends. In a changing world, we have social media, email and facebook. I can find a couple of them I’m sure.
A less known ritual among stamp collectors is to mail away to a Christmas town. Each year I would pick a couple of towns that suggest Christmas and send a self-addressed return envelope, to collect the post mark.
It would surprise you to know how many Christmasy places we have in the U.S. I have a list of 89 cities. Some are repeats, like Berry, IL., and Berry, KY. I’ve written for: Santa, ID. Bethlehem, N.H.,Chestnut, IL, Christmas, MI.,Evergreen, NC.,Garland, TX., Mistletoe, KY, Rudolph, WI, Harmony, MN. There are many, like Ivy, Pine, Noel, Hope, Bountiful, St. Marys, Winters, North Pole… and so it goes. I forgot to mention local Angels Camp is on the list.
And, once you begin looking at post marks, you find other interesting anomalies like these opposites:
Disco, Wisconsin —– Waltz, Michigan. Carefree, Arizona—–Panic, Pennyslvania. Normal, Illinois—–Peculiar, Missouri. Sunrise, Wyoming—–Sunset, Louisiana. Lively, Virginia—–Drab, Pennsylvania. Why, Arizona—–Whynot, Mississippi.
Then you begin to wonder, why was a particular town named Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, Hell, California, or Triumph, Louisiana? All town names are a glance at history in a unique way. Major postal centers digitally sort mail and in many areas you can no longer get post marks of the city on an envelope.
You will not see kids lying on the floor, pouring over pictures in a catalog either. I know the future is here, and an I-phone can play your favorite Christmas Carols and allow you to shop while waiting at the doctor’s office. Even waiting at the doctor’s office is destined to change. I am not longing for the “good old days” so much as relishing memories and comparisons, a kind of privilege of age. Who would have thought we’d see driverless cars, and voices that give you directions while driving? I love the technology giving us wonderful things in the future. But, I believe the guy who invented voice mail should be shot. (Well, you know, not really. Only when I’m hanging on-line for an hour or so.)