My Christmas season has started already!
I normally will violently protest any sort of Christmasness until after Remembrance Day, even though it’s my favourite holiday! It’s about respect not how much I love everything Christmas. But every year, I have one day between Halloween and Remembrance Day where I get all Christmasy. Just one day!
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but every year I do the Any Canadian Soldier Christmas Card Campaign. I kind of detailed it in that previous post but today I’m going to tell you all over again.
I’ve mentioned before that I lost a friend in Afghanistan. His name was Larry and he was honestly one of the best human beings I have ever known. He worked with my mom for a little bit, and she basically adopted him as a second son. Back then, I liked him better than my brother so I was totally ok with that!
It was his dream to serve his country, and he did. For two whole weeks before he was killed in May of 2010. A few years after his death, I heard about Any American Soldier, which is the same thing but for American’s not Canadians. I googled the Canadian version and was hooked!
The idea is simple: to get a Christmas card to every Canadian (or American, depending on where you live) soldier. How easy is that?! It’s a Christmas card! The only thing is that the cards have to be in Belleville (our national centre for military mail I guess) by November 9th. Which is the only reason that I bust out Christmas things before the 11th.
The first year I did this, I wrote one card. Just one. I selected a random address from the list and sent it off. It was my first year back in Canada after my first year in Korea. Right before teacher’s college. The next year, while in teacher’s college, I suggested it to my associate teacher, but since I waited a little too long to approach him (curse you, shyness!) we didn’t have time to get it done before the mailing deadline.
Since then, I’ve done it every year, minus my most recent year in Korea. I’ve done lots of things with the cards. I’ve stamped and painted, added glitter and/or stickers, put in little bookmarks, collected beautiful maple leaves from my backyard, let them dry out and then laminated them and cut them out and sent them as little tokens of home. I’ve found poems online and written them in. Gone super over the top and really simple. The first few years were very simple and plain, but since I’m doing this in Larry’s memory, I thought I’d step it up and make the cards how I know he would have loved to get them. Or how he would have done them himself because he was such a sweetheart like that and would have been all over this.
This year is no different. On Friday, I got my Christmas cards. Bless the dollar stores for being way ahead of the season and already having their things out! I think I will have to buy boxes of cards at the end of the season this year in preparation for next year. I was cutting it really close this year! Mostly because we are in the middle of a postal strike and I wanted to make sure the cards got to Belleville on time!
I posted my finished pile on Instagram and Facebook and had quite a few requests on both platforms for details on what it was and what I do so I thought I’d share my process this year with you, just in case you wanted to get inspired!
First, I start with the envelopes. I have Christmas stamps so I busted out my paints and selected what I wanted to do. If you’re going to decorate the front of the envelope, leave white space to write the address.
I set those aside and started to work on the actual cards. This year, I went with cheesy jokes. Ya know, “dad jokes”. I found a few online and I was just going to write one but then the card looked kind of empty so I ended up with five per card. Each card has the same jokes, so I think I’ll never forget them! I wrote them out 25 times, for the 25 cards that I was sending.
Yes – that is a Santa book underneath! It was the one sticking out the farthest on my bookshelf at the time and I needed a hard surface so I could Netflix and write at the same time.
Then, it was just a simple matter of addressing the envelopes! If you go to this website, you can find instructions on how to do that. The addresses are number 6 on the list. Please make sure you read the special instructions for each operations base. The one in the Congo, for instance, will not accept any mail that isn’t specifically addressed to a person so I didn’t send one there. They are all going to Belleville PO Boxes so you just need one stamp to get it there and the military takes care of the rest. If you are a teacher, you can send a whole class set for free! How awesome is that?! Just have the return address be the school and BAM project for your class!
It took almost all day on Friday, and my hand was killing me by the time I reached the end of it! But it’s part of my yearly routine and I felt so accomplished after. They were in the mailbox Saturday morning when I walked to work. This year, I have four new people who wanted information who said they were going to participate. That’s amazing! YAY!
Sometimes you’ll get responses back, some will be a personal letter written by whoever received it, sometimes the card goes to an entire unit and you get a typed letter that is sent to everyone who does it. Once I even got a picture of a unit with everyone’s signature on it. It’s great to get those things back in the mail, but honestly, out of the probably 200 cards I’ve sent, I’ve received maybe 10 things back. That’s not why I do it. I do it for Larry because I know it would have made him smile. I know this is such a small way that I can help support the Canadian military and that makes me happy.