Christmas card documents 60 years of families’ history
This Christmas, a little quad-folded card will be sent out for the 60th year in a row, continuing a tradition of two families that has spanned two generations.
“My mom, Wanda Powell, and another lady, Betty Steele from Dagsboro, started it for their children,” explained Carol Hurley of Ocean View. “It wasn’t planned. It just sort of happened. This will be the 60th year it was sent.”
Hurley said her mother received the card from Steele in 1953 and, on a whim, decided to send it back to her friend the following year.
“Mom had received this card. My brother had been born on the 18th of December. Mom got ready to send Christmas cards, and she had decided to look through the cards she had received the year before and she thought, ‘Aw — this is such a cute little card, I’ll just mail it back,’” said Hurley. “So she signed it, put it in an envelope and mailed it back.
“Nobody ever said anything about the card or that they’d received the card they’d sent the year before. Then the next year, it came back. Then, the next year, Mom sent it back. And it just started going back and forth and back and forth.”
From that, Powell and Steele continued to send the card back and forth for more than two decades before passing the tradition on to their daughters, Hurley and Helen Steele Lareau.
“When we got married, the two moms said, ‘We’re tired of doing this. We’re going to give this to the two older girls,” said Hurley, who took over sending the card in 1979. “When the kids took over, we added our spouses’ and our children’s names on it.
“On the card, you can watch the families grow and change. As people get married and have babies, you can see the changes in the families. It’s pretty interesting.”
Hurley said the small card is starting to run out of room for the families’ yearly signatures.
“On the front is a little girl. She’s praying, and there’s a little lamb and a little bunny. It says, ‘For You at Christmas.’ Inside is a little boy that says, ‘Oh, let us come adore him — just a special little prayer for Christmas joy to go with you every day and everywhere,” she said. “It’s this little card.
“There’s not a heck of a lot of room left. If nothing else, we’ll just stick a sheet of paper in there. There’s still some writing room — a little bit, but not much.”
Hurley said that every year her family has the card it is stored in a safe place, and a date to mail it out is marked on the calendar.
“It has never missed a year. It’s never been lost. Now we write ourselves a note on the calendar a year in advance so we don’t forget,” she said. “We’ve even laughed about it: ‘We need to have this insured or send it priority mail.’”
Hurley added that she and Lareau, who resides in Wilmington, have no intention of stopping the tradition started by their mothers and hope their children will eventually carry on the tradition.
“We’re not sure if they will. I know Helen, I know the other daughter. Our children wouldn’t know each other if they ran into each other… It’s become valuable to us. I would hate to see it stop. I think they would do it for tradition’s sake. It’d be like a penpal,” she explained, adding with a laugh, “With the price of cards, everybody should do it.”