Author, Editor, and Florida Master Naturalist


It’s Christmas time!

Do you still send Christmas cards? By mail? It seems to be going out of style, but I think that’s a shame. It’s such a thoughtful gesture to – at least once a year – let everyone you know, love, or have been friends with that you still think of them.

Christmas cards are beautiful and full of poems. Are you a poet? Do you draw? Take photographs? Make collages? Any craft thing?

I’ve been making my own Christmas cards for over 60 years. My first card was a linoleum block print, but the second year I drew a little angel and had her printed on 3x5 cards. Then I watercolored each of them. After marriage, I added Gabriel and little angels as the children came along.

Most of the cards were craft type projects.

When the children were still at home, I designed a card that could include their participation. One year the oldest daughter helped cut little donkeys and a tiny manger out of sticky shelf paper. Another gathered some hay from the horse barn to glue under the donkey’s feet. Our son set up his little printer with the verse from the children’s song: “Aye, said the donkey, all shaggy and brown …” to print inside, and the littlest one licked the stars to put above the scene. We stuck everything on nice paper. I always use handsome paper or card stock and make them to fit a standard size envelope.

Another year, my young seamstresses cut out and sewed together small felt stockings. Our youngest glued on sequins and other decorations, and our son used his printer again to print the little card that was stuffed inside: “A stocking full of love and cheer For Christmas and the coming year.”

One year we made our own paper out of newspaper and colored paper scraps, cut a couple of slits, and wove a ribbon through. Another year we marbleized rice paper. Each one was different. These were especially fun – and messy.

Though each card was hand-made, we set up a table to lay them out and sort of mass produce them, making 80 or so of them each year.

Some had real plants, like the palm frond strips I made into crosses with an ornament hook attached (some recipients are still hanging them on their Christmas trees).

Sometimes I used a poem (with apologies to …) and did a take-off on it. The one I liked the best was the one I wrote the Christmas we returned to Florida after a few years in the frozen north:

Oh, it’s home again and home again,

It’s Florida for me.

My heart is now at home again,

Back where I longed to be

In the blessed land of warm enough,

Beyond the cold and snow,

Where the air is full of sunshine and the golden breezes blow!

Can you identify the original poem and author? “America for Me” by Henry Van Dyke.

Sometimes I wrote a real original. This was written while we were still in the frozen north.

The skies are gray,

But hearth fires glow;

There is no grass,

But sparkling snow;

There are no leaves,

But Jack Frost’s art;

Cold chills the bones,

But not the heart.

For Christmas time is here again,

To bring us joy and love within.

Though worlds without seem cold and sere,

The Christ has come, so have good cheer.

So if you can do a piece of art, or design a craft project, or write a poem, share your talent with your friends and relatives each Christmas. It’s a little gift of yourself.

And if you like this idea and haven’t done it before, well, it’s time to get started! Christmas is just around the corner.

P.S. Want 60-something more ideas? Send me an email:

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