Far from North American family members, friends and “mission supporters” for so many years in Taiwan, we came each year to the 12th month of the year with many Christmas cards to send. Over the decades the number of cards we sent remained fairly steady while the number we received declined, but we kept up the habit of greeting friends and relatives, and about 40 local churches, annually. One year we were just too busy, so promised ourselves that we’d send “Chinese New Year” cards instead, only to discover that there was no such thing a month later. Departing Taiwan in the summer of 2018, we did our final “thank you for your support” cards to churches at the end of last year. Our list shrank.
Christmas cards are big business in Taiwan Most of them are really “cute”. We generally shopped at a bookstore in Kaohsiung run by an order of Roman Catholic sisters. The nuns’ cards fit our faith and values. Even after moving to Tainan in 2007 we’d return to Kaohsiung in November to get cards. But, our next-door neighbor in Tainan was the Taiwan Church Press Bookstore, so it seemed strange not to shop there. But that was hard. Some of the cards were slightly religious, with a bible verse in Chinese or something, but they were generally equally as cute as the ones available at stationery stores.
Near the end of 2017, knowing we would be leaving the next year, we took a final look next door. It was worth the trouble. We found just one of the world’s most perfect Christmas card. It depicted Jesus standing on a rooftop next to a chimney wishing everyone a jolly “Ho, Ho, Ho!”
Now we’re too far to visit the Kaohsiung nuns, and thankfully we’re too far from Tainan to get the Church Press Book Store’s offerings, we shop at a local thrift store, that puts out a mixed bunch of what had been in their back room. This year they had boxes of what once were expensive cards on sale for 50 cents a box. 16 high quality cards in each. Such a deal! We did not have to concern ourselves with avoiding cute, just ugly.
The cards went out earlier in the week, most of them with Kwanzaa stamps in the corner, an item not available from the Taiwan post office.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.