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Talking Christmas Cards–with a Hoosier Touch

December 14, 2016


Talking Christmas Cards from the Cassette Decades–with a Hoosier Touch


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



The celebrating of the holidays began for me in the 1950s when the mailing of Christmas cards was much more popular than today.  Since my mother was the postmaster of our small Hoosier town’s post office, mailing of Christmas cards also helped support the third-class post office of Blanford, Indiana.  Each holiday season, my parents mailed (and received) approximately 150 to 180 cards which my mother personally signed.  Although she always handwrote in cursive the addresses on the envelopes, I remember that my dad, my sister, and I sometimes placed the postage stamps and Christmas seals on the envelopes.  During my high school years, I joined in this tradition by making my own Christmas card list and sending my Christmas cards to relatives and friends.


In recent decades, I have most often purchased boxes of braille/print Christmas card; and I still enjoy sending my chosen cards and finding in my mailbox a variety of Christmas cards.  Although I am happy with any expression of this Christmas tradition, receiving cards that are more tactile or that even contain braille especially increase my Christmas spirit.  Nevertheless, in recent years, the most abundant are the photocards which I display on my piano.


While the musical cards and cards  that have a small device for creating a personal recording are quite special, I most fondly recall the Talking Christmas Cards of the cassette decades.  In the 1980s, I was active in the Sight-loss Support Group of the Wabash Valley (Indiana).  Founded by John Stroot and Ernestine Lambert, this group, also known as SLSG, met monthly at the Vigo County Public Library, In Terre Haute, for over ten years.  During the early years of this group’s existence, having approximately forty people at a regular meeting and especially at a Christmas party was typical.  I remember these friends of the Sight-loss Support Group of the Wabash Valley with great fondness.  We shared so much together and also worked to enhance the lives of tri-county area residents who were blind and visually impaired.  One of our biggest projects was talking newspaper which involved a rotating number of fifty volunteers who read pre-selected articles from three area newspapers (primarily The Terre Haute Tribune-Star) for a pre-recorded program that aired on WBOW-AM radio each Sunday morning for four years (until the radio station changed formats).These programs were enjoyed by both visually impaired and sighted listeners.  From the spring of 1986 through February of 1990, I loved having the opportunity to work on Talking Newspaper.  At that time, our program was one of only two such programs in the United States on an AM radio station; all other radio-reading services were on sub-carrier frequencies of FM radio stations.


From the idea of the Talking Newspaper and from each December issue of Newsreel (recorded) magazine, I thought of a Talking Christmas Card for SLSG.  In those years when cassette recorders were much more popular and when cassette tapes were easily available, many members of SLSG recorded onto cassettes their holiday greetings, messages, and stories; additionally, some shared musical talents.  After all of the individual cassettes were collected and arranged onto a master, SLSG President John Stroot, of Clinton, used his dual-cassette recorder to make copies of the Talking Christmas Card to distribute at our December holiday party.


Three decades later, these recordings of the Talking Christmas Cards of SLSG are even more precious because too many of these voices are of friends and relatives who are sadly no longer with us.  I encouraged even my mother and father to be a part of these Talking Christmas Cards and am so glad I did so that their voices are preserved in this way.


For one of these Talking Christmas Cards, I wrote the music and lyrics for a very short song that demonstrates how I am ever a Hoosier at heart.  Fortunately, my friend John Stroot agreed to sing the song on one of the SLSG Christmas Cards of the late 1980s.  Sharing the following lyrics with you this week seems most appropriate because two hundred years ago–on December 11, 1816–Indiana became the nineteenth state of the United States.


Hoosier Holidays


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Have a warm and wonderful holiday!

Hoosier Holiday is what I wish for you;

and don’t you miss a mistletoe,

a way to show

how much you really care.

Christmas joy to you!

Happy Holidays,

“Hoosier Holidays”

is what I wish for you.


On another segment of the Talking Christmas Cards, I told the story about my accidentally wearing slippers inside my boots when I went to visit the real Santa Claus in Santa Claus, Indiana.  This story is also included in one of the memoirs of my new book The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season.  (For additional information about my newly released print book and e-book, please visit my author’s page at the following link.)


From 1991 to 1996, when I was teaching blind rehabilitation, I incorporated the Talking Christmas Card into a project for my students and am pleased to still have the 1992 recorded remembrance of my students, as well.


Perhaps, you may think of a more contemporary way to create a Talking Christmas Card for your family, extended family, or other group by means of a computer and/or your i-phone.  Just ponder all the possibilities for initiating a new Christmas tradition!


BOOK NOTE:  If you missed the announcement of my book, The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season, on my December 1 blog post and/or missed the story behind the cover photo of my book in my December 7 blog post, I hope that you will read these Wordwalk postings.  Additionally, on my author’s page, you will find the festive photo of the cover  of my book, the table of contents, a twenty-page reading sample, my author’s bio, and ordering information for both the print book and the e-book.  I would be very pleased if you visit my author’s page:


To all who have sent me e-mails and who have called me about my little holiday book (of 101 pages), I thank you very much.  Your kind and encouraging words have meant so much to me as I am on this “book whirlwind.”


Enjoy all the old and new traditions of this holiday season!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow (who in our wintry Wisconsin weather is sporting a cheery red coat)


December 14, 2016, Wednesday



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  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–Another thorough and interesting blog! I know I’ve made this comment before, but you have some very lucky nephews and their families who will some day treasure these looks into their past. And once again, congratulations on your book–quite an achievement–and as a horse-lover, thanks for the beautiful cover.–Sue

    • Sue–Thanks for commenting and for mentioning the beautiful cover of my book. Just last night, the back cover with Zoe’s photo was added to my author’s page at:

      On the above web page, the photo of the back cover is located with the enlarged photo of the cover and below it.

      Guess what I have been doing four times this evening? Shoveling, shoveling snow and more snow!

      Stay warm and cozy–A & W

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