‘Tis the Season for Stamps
It’s the season when we all, or we hope to at least, send out Christmas or holiday greeting cards to those we hold near and dear and to some not so dear.
We’ve known deep in our heart that a group message to all our FB friends lacks the luster of a personalized card. So, we stuff cards with the required quarter-folded 8 1/2 inch poinsettia-framed papers detailing our previous years accomplishments and heartbreaks.
If you’re like me each holiday season is filled with great intentions. Yet, you may like me, still have several boxes of Christmas cards, along with a variety of Christmas stamps, stashed away. They never made it out of the boxes and to the Post Office. I’m hoping this year to be better.
Several of my uncles spent time in the military during the Vietnam era. They sent letters back to my mother in Nebraska. My older sister Vickie enjoyed collecting the stamps off the envelopes.
Through the years friends heard of her delightful project. They sent stamps from all over the world to add to her collection.
We didn’t know this at the time, but she was a philatelist, the term used to describe a stamp collector.
But, little did I know, that every single stamp she received had a unique story of its own. 1
While shopping online today for new stamps on the USPS website I learned a few things I want to share with you. Now that I learned that stamps have unique stories to tell I’ll pay more attention to the stamps I use.
Chief Standing Bear
Justice moves slowly, as Standing Bear – a Ponca chief from northern Nebraska – discovered.
It has taken a long time for society and the courts to recognize the value and personhood of all humanity. We might still wonder if we are in agreement yet – at that point in our thinking of which peoples matter.
Not until Chief Standing Bear’s “landmark court ruling” in 1879 did the United States recognize that he “was a person under the law.” To learn more about Standing Bear, purchase Joe Starita’s book, I Am A Man, which records the remarkable account of his pursuit of justice.
There’s a stamp honoring Tomie dePaola’s work. The USPS website has this to say about the stories he wrote for children, which I think is insightful.
According to their website, dePaola’s work is “deceptively simple … [but his stories] contain layers of emotional meaning that appeals to readers of all ages.”
I couldn’t help but think of the wondrous narratives in the Bible – especially those from Genesis and Exodus. I cut my spiritual-teeth on those stories. They opened my 7-year old eyes to see the disparities in life around me.
As a young mom, the stories in Genesis guided my own parenting of our four children – each which displayed uniquely different personalities early on. Those ancient stories motivated me to parent without showing too much preference or favoritism.
As a wife I learned through those stories that my husband and I were allies – working together in ministry as we taught God’s stories to others.
I realize how silly we are to think the Bible stories we call sacred are just ‘simple’ stories. In truth, they like dePaola’s storybooks, are rich with deeper meaning. Maybe it’s time we curled up on the couch with a cup of our favorite beverage to reread the familiar stories in the Bible with an eye for the deeper meaning contained therein.
I had not heard of Tomie dePaola. Evidently, dePaola wrote or illustrated over 270 books with over 25 million sold. He died in 2020.
After a looking through his website I am convinced I need to purchase a few for my personal library. Maybe a few will show up as stocking stuffers this Christmas!
Winter Woodland Creatures
The charming animals of the Winter Woodland stamps caught my eye the other day at work when mailing out a package to a customer.
I found the art charming, so I purchased 3 booklets.
There’s just something about the changing seasons. The fox, the deer, the bunny, and the owl on these stamps represent the beauty of the season while also offering hope as we enter into the dark days of winter.
The darling woodland creatures bring to mind Kaitlin Curtice’s newest book, Winter’s Gifts. Kaitlin’s book tells a story of the winter season through the eyes of Dani, a young Indigenous girl who encourages her friends to celebrate the beauty of nature.
‘Tis the Season for Stories
I work at a small college bookstore on a Christian campus. Many of the shelves are filled with theology books, Bible studies, textbooks, and all sorts of Bibles – exactly what you might expect to find at a Christian bookstore.
There are also shelves with historical fiction, historical Biblical fiction (I know!), suspense and mystery, contemporary romance, an abundance of Amish fiction, as well as several biographies.
Some customers have limited understanding of the translation process and the work involved in bringing a Bible to its final form as a KJV, a NASB, a Study Bible, or the newer Bibles with QR codes that allow the reader access to internet studies and background information.
They’re puzzled by the variety of Bibles on the shelf. Which one tells the story correctly? Where are the ones the false prophets have edited? Others are well-equipped with the skills to translate the original texts for themselves. They select the Bible best suited to their tastes.
Whatever the reading level of the customer, each person longs to hear or read what has become known as the greatest story every told.
The stories are all around us. In my time working with the public at the bookstore I’ve noticed that every customer – not only has a story – they long to tell their story of how this book has impacted their life – whether positively or negatively. They desire to be heard and long to know they have in some small way contributed meaning to life.
In the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holidays set aside some time to share the stories that shaped your life. Share them with your children and grandchildren. Have them share their stories with you.
Instead of the usual updates in your holiday cards, why not write their stories onto that 8 1/2 ” insert. Affix a delightful stamp, one that tells a story, in the corner of the envelope. Send them out to your loved ones far and near!
‘Tis the season for stories. They are all around us.