Why a Christmas card from 1953 keeps getting mailed every year
It’s a Christmas tradition that’s been going on now for nearly 65 years.
In 1953, Art Clarke, who was 13 and living in Toronto at the time, sent out Christmas cards to six of his friends. All of the cards were the same: they included a lucky coin and invited the receiver to return it to the sender.
Only one of Clarke’s friends, David Harding, who was living in Minden, Ontario at the time, sent the card back, and so began a tradition that would continue for decades.
Every Christmas without fail the card goes back and forth between the two men.
“Every year, we sign the card and date it, and (indicate) where we actually are,” Clarke told CBC’s London Morning.
And the card has travelled to many destinations. Harding, who for many years was a bank manager, worked from Oshawa to Ottawa and Whitby to Windsor. No matter where he lived or how busy he was, Harding always made sure to return the card to his friend.
When Clarke first sent the card in 1953, it was posted with a one-cent stamp. In later years, the two men started sending it via registered mail. This year Clarke said it cost $10 to mail the card from his current home in Bracebridge, Ontario to Harding’s home in Sparta, southeast of St. Thomas.
Never a year missed
There has never been a year that the card has not been exchanged, though they came close to losing it in the mail two years ago.
When it didn’t arrive at Harding’s address in December, 2015 they had Canada Post run a search. It turned out the card had gone to Harding’s previous address and the new residents had signed for the card.
Despite their loyalty to the card exchange, the two friends rarely talk. “No, this is the way we greet each other, and we haven’t seen each other for over 50 years,” said Clarke.
The card does the talking
Harding says he doesn’t see the need to talk. “I don’t bother to call (Art) because that’s the mystique.” Besides, he adds, they each include a little note so, there’s no need to call.
Nor are they interested in exchanging email greetings, but Clarke understands the general appeal. “I’m surprised that cards are still being sent because more and more, people seem to be sending email cards…and I don’t think it will be that many years before there are no such things as Christmas cards.”
But Harding can’t imagine life without them. He trades them with two other friends in opposite ends of the country – one in Halifax, the other in British Columbia, and the Halifax exchanges has being going on for almost 40 years.
“I just love the tradition of Christmas cards and the ambiance and the nostalgia, something sadly lacking today, ” said Harding.
Keeping the tradition alive
How long can Harding and Clarke keep their decades old tradition going?
“Well, I’m teetering on 80 and I think Arthur’s teetering on 80, so hopefully our kids will take over from there,” said Harding.
Clarke says he’ll keep the custom alive until he dies, but he doesn’t know if his children will be interested in maintaining it. He says if it hadn’t been for his wife, he might have forgotten to keep up the exchange with Harding years ago.
“She’s the one that actually puts it front of me … and says: ‘Here, sign your card and get it off in the mail.'”
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