A Christmas prank by an older brother has led to a Christmas card travelling back and forth between two siblings on the Prairies for the past 50 years.
“The white card is now yellow,” said Red Deer’s Lowell Hodgson, 72.
The tradition started in 1967 when the card first made it to Hodgson from his younger sister, Linda Gerrard.
He saved all his family Christmas cards he received that year. As a joke, he wanted to send the same cards back to them the following year and so he did. In 1968, he stroke out their names and signed his name before mailing the cards out.
But no one in the family found his joke funny, said Hodgson, “except Linda.”
Gerrard also decided to play the same prank on her older brother. She saved the card that year and sent it back to him the following Christmas — in 1969. She said she found the joke “clever.”
And so the tradition went on.
Fast forward to 2017 — the card has been going back and forth between the siblings for half a century.
The card that’s “precious” to the brother and sister has seen better days.
“This card has travelled back and forth to the point that it’s tattered and torn,” said Hodgson.
There’s almost nowhere left to write, but the pair finds little spots, said the Lancaster Green resident.
Because the brother and sister worry the card could get lost in the mail, they sometimes insure it. At the Hodgson’s residence, the card has a special home — tucked inside a drawer where it stays safe for the whole year until it gets mailed out.
Gerrard said the card is hung on a Christmas tree every year as an ornament at her house. It’s tucked away safely after the holiday season until the following year.
In some instances, the card has been hand delivered, like in 2006 when Hodgson and his wife drove to Neepawa, Man., to see the Gerrard family during the holiday season.
“Hand-delivered with much care and considerable cost, we drove our truck and fifth wheel to Neepawa and averaged about eight miles per gallon. It just adds value to this very special card. Love from Howell and Elaine,” states the entry on the card that year, from Hodgson and his wife.
During the 40th anniversary of the Christmas card, Gerrard signed, “If this card could’ve collected air miles, we could have taken a trip around the world. So many changes in 40 years, but one constant is our love for you,” she and her husband Wayne, wrote to Hodgson.
The changes she was referring to are true for both siblings.
When the card was first sent in 1967, Gerrard – a Winnipeg resident, was single. Today, the 70-year-old is a grandmother.
Back then Hodgson, 22, resided in Eston, Sask., and he was married to his former wife with two children. Today, he is a great grandfather to one, and grandfather to 12.
He moved to Red Deer in 1969 when he started working for the city. He retired, about five years after he was promoted to the director of community services, in 2000.
The card, that’s almost run out of white space, has been signed upside down, sideways and all around.
“I don’t know how long we can keep this going but as long as we can, we will. It’s just dear to us,” he said.
Gerrard said the card was part of an assorted Christmas card box consisting of approximately 25 cards for $2 when she purchased it.