There are, of course, lots of faith-related anniversaries I might take note of today as we start November, including the 451 C.E. adjournment of the Council of Chalcedon and the 1512 unveiling of Michaelangelo's masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
For it was on this date in 1962 that the U.S. Postal Service issued its first Christmas stamp (pictured here).
Notice the price -- 4 cents. Today's Christmas stamps are more than 10 times that amount.
I love Christmas stamps, and I'm especially glad that the Postal Service today issues stamps that connect to the religious holiday and stamps that are simply seasonal in nature, depicting, say, Santa Claus or a snow-covered landscape. It's nice in a pluralistic society to have that choice.
No doubt there are church-state hardliners who would like the banish all stamps that relate to holidays of any religion. And although I'm a pretty strict separationist, I think that would be going overboard. Offering stamps with religious themes is simply a way of acknowledging the reality in our culture.
Besides, it seems that more and more winter holiday letters arrive not via snailmail but electronically. It's a nice green thing to do, and my wife and I do some of that. But then you don't get to see the lovely art often available on these stamps.
Well, I wouldn't call the 1962 stamp lovely art, but it was the start of a good tradition.
By the way, the link I gave you above about the first stamp also will list the stamps issued in succeeding years. See how many you remember. And if you plan to send me a Christmas card this year, do it early so I can respond and still make you think I had meant to all along.
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ANY FOR THE PAPAL BULL PEN?
The Vatican intends to create more cardinals in February, it's reported. Wonder if any of them can play better than the ones that Boston just beat.