I’ve always been a collector--teddy bears, dolls, postcards, stamps, bells, goblets--you name it and I’ve probably collected it! But I’ve realized over the past few years that I really need to start downsizing by finding “good homes” for my many treasures. If my daughter or husband end up having to “get rid” of them sometime in the (hopefully distant) future, I’ll have nothing to say about what happens to them. Who knows what might happen to them!? So the recent Covid quarantine became the time when I finally decided to go through “everything” and seriously start dispersing all the special items that were packed away in my closets.
It wasn’t difficult to find new homes for many of the bears and dolls in nursing homes or with different children’s groups. And many of the old family items were of interest to different, younger family members. But for the cartons full of old cards and notes--actually, mostly the fronts of old cards--there was not a whole lot of demand. I seriously sorted through them, but there were so many that were just too special--so pretty, or cute, or funny--that they deserved much more than to be thrown into the trash. I just couldn’t throw them away!
As I went through them, I did get rid of some that just didn’t still hold my interest…but I also found many that brought back so many wonderful memories, especially of those who had originally sent them to me. And I began to think about how I might share them, once again, with those people. An idea began to form in my mind. In fact, it was the beginning of a project that has practically taken over my life--the project that I call my “Recycling and Re-sharing Project.”
Because I had started with hundreds of saved, old Christmas cards, and Christmas was the next, big, card-sending holiday on the calendar, I started with cards for those holidays. I decided to make the “old” into “new,“ and found several sources of “picture-frame greeting cards” online,--the kind of card that is made to form a “frame” around a photo that is slipped into the front. Some of these were more satisfactory than others. I was excited, at first, by some that were made specifically for Christmas cards, and even contained a printed message on the inside that would save me from having to write anything there. But, as I worked with them, it became obvious that those weren’t always the best choice because the busy-ness of the border sometimes detracted from the attractiveness of the old card itself, or it opened horizontally when I needed to have it open vertically--or vice versa. Another group of frame cards that I found online was just that--frames. They didn’t open up like a card at all,--just provided the frame for the pretty old card but didn’t allow me to write my personal note.
And then I found the Sampler Pack by Plymouth Cards!!! They were perfect! (And I’ve since learned that it’s even a whole lot better to go directly to the Plymouth Card website because they have so very many more possibilities available there.) The large variety of shades and hues in the Sampler Pack made it possible to find a complementary color for framing just about any older card! And the Plymouth cards could be turned either vertically or horizontally! They also have some cards with borders of several different themes. If you think about doing this project at all, the Plymouth Card website is definitely the place to start!
As I started working with the various beautiful older cards, I found the darker colors were often the most striking for bringing out the beauty of the old cards, but at first it appeared that these dark, rich colors (blacks, deep reds and purples, etc.) might be a problem. I couldn’t include my personal message (or any message) with regular pens, because they wouldn’t show up. But Plymouth does answer that challenge too by offering pens of different colors--silver and gold are my favorites because they are great for these darker-colored cards. It also worked, occasionally, to cut the greeting from the inside of an old card and paste it on the inside of the new card.
Once I got started, it didn’t take long at all to come up with enough “new, recycled” cards to serve my needs for the Christmas holiday. I had 75, then 90 new cards--and I was well into my third Sampler Pack from Plymouth Cards. I would sit in the evenings--especially while watching the news on TV--and look through my collection of old cards. Some of them almost spoke the name of the person to whom I would be sending it. I’d choose a card and then, after selecting a complimentary picture-frame card, I’d do whatever trimming was needed so that it fit nicely into the frame. One word of warning here is to go slowly! You can always do a little more trimming, but once you’ve cut too much off of one of those old cards, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. It was heart-breaking to lose a couple of beautiful, old and irreplaceable cards just because I tried to hurry the process too much. With most of the cards, I would then go on and address an envelope, all ready to write the message and send it off.
One of the greatest parts of this project was that it was giving me such joy, and, at the same time, I was solving the problem of emptying the many boxes that had been stored in my closet. I hadn‘t been able to think of getting rid of those old cards, and now I was enjoying it! I almost felt as though I were “creating” a little “gift” for each recipient because each card was made with that person specifically in mind. On some, I could say something like, “Do you remember sending this card?” (and I figured if they liked the card enough to send it in the first place, they would probably enjoy seeing it again!) Or I might say “Do you realize how long it’s been since you sent me this card?” This was especially fun when sending a picture of their own family on a photo greeting from many years earlier! On a few of these cards, I wrote a note saying that I didn’t ordinarily recommend tearing my “Recycled cards” apart, but if they’d gently pull the card out of the frame, they could read their original note. And with many of the old cards, when the fronts had been removed from the back, I didn’t even know the original sender but chose a card for some other reason.
And it certainly hasn’t ended with Christmas cards. I’m now building up a collection of recycled cards to re-share whenever they are needed--birthdays, Easter, Halloween, or just to say “Thinking about you.” They make a nice personal touch and at a very reasonable price when you consider the price of just one card from a store.
It can become addicting though! Any card that I receive now is barely out of its envelope before I am assessing how well it will work as a “recycled card” to be “re-shared” at a later date when needed. And I’m also starting to go through my thousands of postcards, and photos, and boxes of pictures from calendars and magazines. It’s been great fun and amazing to find memories from the past that will work for my “Recycling and Re-sharing Project.”