It’s lovely to receive greetings cards on birthdays or Christmas but what do you do with yours after the event? People give them to charities, or the recycling unit, or even strip them down for reuse. When I say reuse, I mean cut them up to make gift tags or decoration on home-made cards. But in the old days of rationing and lack of cash the cards could be used again. It was easy because most had an inserted leaf with printed greeting that could be removed so no-one was aware that the card had been reprocessed.
My mother wouldn’t admit to such a practice but she did it nonetheless. She would carefully remove the insert and checked the card for indentations from pen nibs, random ink blots, and other betraying signs, before writing her own greeting.
I don’t expect many people wrote to thank the senders of cards but we did acknowledge presents that way. Unlike today, I might add. Often now it’s an email or nothing. I cannot remember how old I was but I was old enough to write thank you letters, which I did with passion. Here’s what I wrote to a pseudo aunt. She was no relation, just my mother’s friend, but we were very respectful in those days. Here's the gist of my message:
Dear Auntie Carrie.
Thank you for the lovely present and the Christmas card. Mommy liked the card. She showed it to everybody. She said she could see where you tore out the paper from the middle so you could use it again. It made everyone laugh.
Lots of love, Valerie.
Mom nearly killed me when she received Auntie Carrie’s letter. They didn’t speak for years after that, no matter that Mom was as guilty as her friend when it came to reusing cards. As you can imagine I grew up knowing that whatever I wrote could be taken down and used in evidence if I didn’t choose words carefully.
It's my birthday today... perhaps that's why I went back in time to an almost long-forgotten incident. Cheers, everyone.