Holidays are over. Time to put things away for another year!

More blogs by Bob Walden

We had a wonderful holiday season at our house. Lots of toys, noise and mess. But now comes the sad part. It’s time to pack up the old memories and treasures to be stored away for another year. Into the old boxes, plastic bins and drawers.  But wait!

Now is a perfect time to start an organization project and prepare for next Christmas!

One of our family traditions is to hang a few old Christmas cards on our tree. These are personal family cards dating from the early 1900’s.

With the Christmas card in an archival sleeve, we punch a small hole into the top of the sleeve. While an ornament hook could be used, it seems a bit more vintage to use a small piece of colored ribbon. Because the sleeve is transparent it makes it possible to read the back of the Christmas card which helps identify the sender and the Christmas message. This is a great way to help children make a connection to their parents, grandparents and sometimes even great grandparents.

This also makes an interesting learning project for children. Before packing up the old cards and putting them away, gather the children around a table and have them help putting these special Christmas cards into the sleeves.

            To Adolph                                                      from Aunt Min & Uncle Ben

Explain to them who sent and who received the cards and their relationship to the children. Even more informative, if you had some of

your old photos of these relatives so a face could be associated to the cards. 

Early Christmas cards are so beautifully done I consider them art. Christmas cards can also be part of your family history. Looking for unusual decorating ideas for Christmas? Try using your treasured Christmas cards for decorations. I hunt sales, auctions and antique stores for unique old frames.

Usually these frames are very inexpensive. Frame a few of these colorful Christmas cards and display them. Maybe hang a few on the fireplace next to the stockings. You will have family history and unique decorations you won’t see at your neighbor’s house!

A brief side note on this card. When I first looked at this card I thought it was a typo mistake. I thought it should have been “A happy Christmas ride” instead of tide. Nope. It has a meaning. It is the festival season from Christmas until after New Year’s Day in England. And it can be spelled Christmastide.  If you play Scrabble keep this word in mind! 

These are two of several ornaments my wife’s grandfather brought from Germany when moving to America in the 1890’s. This year when putting the ornaments on the Christmas tree, we used this as a learning moment to explain to our grandchildren about their great great grandfather and great great grandmother, their lives and hardships. Sometimes it’s not enough to just hang the ornaments. It’s very important to teach the stories

It’s not always possible to display your entire collection of treasured Christmas cards. And it certainly is a hassle going through your postcards, greeting cards and photos (especially if your collections include large amounts of these!) to relive these holiday memories.

What I have done is put these beautiful cards into a slide show. There are many slide show programs. Some programs are great some not so great. Some free some very expensive. I personally use ProShow Producer. But almost all the other programs will do the same thing.

I start by gathering all the cards I have. Selection depends on content more than condition. Fortunately, overall my cards are in good to excellent condition. But I would try and save even poorly shaped cards if they were important. I put all the cards in protective sleeves to be sure they remain protected. The sleeves are clear and I can scan the cards through the sleeves.

Front and back of the cards are important as this is a recording of your history. Before scanning I try to arrange the Christmas cards according to date if possible. Many Christmas cards were not sent but hand delivered as it was more of a present than just a simple card.

Accurate sending dates may not be possible as the cards won’t be postmarked.

Most slide programs work the same way. Some are more complicated than others. The main area is the timeline. This shows you the slides and the music that will be in your show.

The first slide is a blank slide or title slide. Notice how the music starts at the beginning of this slide. That allows you to “fade in” the music. The second slide introduces the show.

For the third and all the rest of the slides I add a background slide.

The Christmas card slides will go on top of the background slides.

By using background slides and putting the Christmas card slides on top of them, you will not have a black background when using vertical or horizontal slides. A background slide can easily be made in many free graphics programs. The slides with the background are called the content slides.

This vertical Christmas card has a wonderful message on the back of the card.  However I chose to first show the front of the cards then the back of the cards. To see the back of the card the position needs to be horizontal.

Unfortunately that makes the writing that is on the bottom of the vertical card difficult to read.

That can be solved by using what is known as keyframes. The first frame is set in the horizontal position so the card itself can be read. 

The next frame is in the vertical position so the text of the message can be read and the slide smoothly transitions to the next slide. 

Keyframes can be a bit difficult to understand at first. The internet and YouTube have many tutorials on how to do this. But there is simpler way to transition to another position that works in most programs.

To transition from horizontal to the vertical position, to make the writing readable, simply make a third image of the back of the card in the vertical position.

By changing the length of time under the slide frame you can vary the time the slide stays on before fading or dissolving into the next slide. For instance, the 6 second time under the second slide should be long enough to view and read the back in the horizontal position. In the third slide a person would mainly be reading the bottom of the post card. So that would be a bit less to read. The 5 second time may be enough. It’s just a matter of adjusting to your needs. Keep in mind some people tend to read very slowly. It may be better to adjust the time for a longer duration then a shorter one.  

Music is widely available on the internet. Much of the music is royalty free. Christmas songs and carols in many variations are in public domain. I use a free program, called Audacity, (just Google it) to join the music, make fade ins and fade outs and to control the volume.

Photo Frame Insert Cards for 4 x 6″ Photos

BLACK Photo Frame Cards. Fits Print size: 4 x 6″.

A handy way to show and store slide shows use to be to burn to a dvd. While that is still an alternative, other ways are now available. Fewer new computers are coming with burners included. Flash drives are popular. With the new smart tv’s, these flash drives plug right into the tv. I also have my own YouTube channel. It’s free. With my slide show uploaded to it anyone I send a link to can view it. Any whenever they like. 

Back to putting your treasures away til next year. Christmas cards are beautiful but fragile. Handling them is very bad for them. They easily scratch and tear. Dirt and grim from your fingers can stain and leave fingerprints. Use archival sleeves and archival boxes to store them.

Sleeves for Single Cards – A7

Greeting Card Sleeve for Single Card & Envelope.

Your antique ornaments are also very fragile. Not always the cats fault they get broken. Before storing I use my wife’s trusty old makeup brush to lightly dust the ornaments. DO NOT use a damp or wet rag! Paint can easily be ruined! I have seen people use newspaper or wrapping paper for storing their ornaments. NOT good! These contain chemicals and dyes that can do damage. Tissue paper can be a good choice. However make sure they are acid free tissue papers. Regular tissue, like newspapers and wrapping papers, can contain chemicals and dyes causing damage to the fragile paints used on these old ornaments. And lastly, if you store your ornaments or your Christmas cards plastic bins, keep in mind they are not designed to let moister escape and moister and humidity are the major problems with storage. I recommend archival and acid free boxes. 

Displaying your treasures from the past can renew great memories, especially during the holiday season. Involving your children in projects that teach help children learn about the past and their relatives. And enlisting their help in saving and storing these treasures will keep wonderful memories alive!

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