It has been estimated that approximately three fourths of all American families exchange Christmas cards of some type – numbering from 60 to 70 cards per family. A staggering four billion cards on average are mailed during the holiday season in the U.S.

Have you ever wondered how this all got started?

British Museum director Henry Cole during the mid-19th century wrote short notes to his friends at Christmas, wishing them a joyful holiday season. In 1843, he had no time to write and asked his artist friend John Horsely to design a printed greeting card. Thus he invented the Christmas card. His initial cards employed the visual imagery of family and charity during the holiday season – an appropriate emblem for early Victorian England. The first “official” Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria herself in the mid-1840s, and the initial printing of commercial greetings during the same decade totaled 2,050 cards sold for a shilling each.

Who sends the most cards today? The President of the United States is credited with having the longest Christmas list – over 40,000 greetings annually. While most of us greatly enjoy receiving a Christmas card (or its modern technological equivalent), many find the cost and labor of getting them out each year to be burdensome. Is it not true that any communication of real value cost something?

When God communicated His love toward us, He sent His Son at the highest price for our redemption. Let’s make sure that we are taking the time and making the effort to express to the Lord Himself our Christmas greeting this year – praise and thanksgiving for His unspeakable gift.

Written by Dr. Bud Steadman, Executive Director of Baptist World Mission