Christmas card passes the test of time

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When it comes to sending those guilt-induced Christmas cards to everyone in the address book, you may contemplate mailing them straight to the landfill. That’s not the case for thrifty sisters Jean Holland and Barbara Teegarden, who have been exchanging the same Christmas card for 53 years.

It all started in 1960 when Holland, now 86, of Fredericktown, bought a card for a dime while living in Seminole, Fla. The card has a duckling on the front, donned in what appears to be Scottish-Christmas attire, and reads: “I thought this card was verra nice. I hope you’ll like it, too. 'Twas sent to me last Christmas, now I’m sendin’ it to you.”

Teegarden, 66, of Deemston, took those words literally and mailed the card back to Holland the following Christmas.

“She was cheap,” Holland quipped, and Teegarden retorted, “I was 13, what do you expect?”

Although Holland and Teegarden were born 20 years apart, they have kept a close bond over the years, partly due to their holiday tradition. Each year, the card’s sender writes her name, the date and whether the card was “early” or “late” – late meaning that the card was sent after the original Dec. 7 date. They also started recording the cost of gas and stamps, which increased from 20 cents in 1981 to 46 cents in 2013.

The sisters recorded milestones – major anniversaries of the card, birthdays and the “Millenium, big time!” – as well as somber events. The “year of anthrax” was 2001, and nearly every year since then has included a mention of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The world has changed a whole lot,” Teegarden remarked.

Inside references also are included, like the year Teegarden was amused by the popular expression “my bad,” and both Teegarden and Holland joked that their card was like the Energizer bunny.

The card is, indeed, in good condition, save for one small piece of tape along the edge and some weathering over the years. Not only is it recording history, but it also serves as meaningful family memorabilia.

“I think it’s great,” said Holland, expressing sadness that few people send handwritten letters anymore. “It’s personal. Gee whiz.”

Teegarden said she often brings the card to the Fredericktown post office so that it can be placed directly into her sister’s box, rather than risk the mail transit.

“The ladies at the post office, when it comes, they handle it with care,” Holland said.

“Everybody that knows us, they know that we call it ‘the card,’ Teegarden added.

This year, Teegarden wrote, “You and I are still working.” Teegarden is a secretary for Fredericktown Real Estate Co., and Holland works at the Dairy Queen in Centerville, although she said she retires every winter.

The best part of the card is that there is still ample space for years to come.

“It’s sentimental,” Holland said, “and we’re just happy it comes and we’re here.”

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