That time-honored piece of correspondence known as the Christmas card finds its origins in 1843, when Victorian-era educator Henry Cole found that he had insufficient time to answer all of his holiday correspondence. So he collaborated with artist JC Horsley to create a small work of art that bore a festive Yuletide greeting.
“Cole then took Horsley’s illustration—a triptych showing a family at table celebrating the holiday flanked by images of people helping the poor—and had a thousand copies made by a London printer. The image was printed on a piece of stiff cardboard 5 1/8 x 3 1/4 inches in size,” wrote John Hanc at SmithsonianMag.Com
“At the top of each was the salutation, “TO:_____” allowing Cole to personalize his responses, which included the generic greeting “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”
In the years that have ensued, Christmas card giving has become a small gesture that is nonetheless a big part of the Yuletide tradition.
…Or, perhaps, not so small.
For at least the past decade, The Hernando County Parks and Recreation Department has hosted its annual Christmas Cards on the Lawn display; scheduled this year November 19 through December 30, at the Hernando County Courthouse located at 20 N. Main Street in Brooksville, and at Hernando Park, 205 E Fort Dade Ave, Brooksville.
These decorative holiday cards stand as 4 X 8 samples of painted plywood–oversized holiday greetings that double as architectural artworks.
“Pictured on these cards you see Christmas trees, Nativity scenes, wreaths, sleighs, packages, trucks with Christmas trees in the back,” said Michele Minnie, recreation specialist at Hernando County Parks and Recreation Department. “And they may have the names of the businesses, associations, or groups sponsoring them.”
Specific rules apply for the setup and display of the cards, and advanced registration is required. Applications are available at www.HernandoCounty.us/Parks_Rec. Also, contact the Hernando County Parks & Recreation Department at (352) 754-4031 to register. Applications may be submitted to the Parks and Recreation Department via email at [email protected] or by fax at (352) 754-4415. Applications may also be mailed or delivered to 16161 Flight Path Drive, Brooksville, FL 34604.
“Participants must provide the following supplies,” read the application guidelines. “4×8 plywood or corrugated plastic with two braces to be anchored with rebar or something to keep the board secure to the ground.”
The cards can have a minimum of one spotlight but not more than two, with a short extension cord or power strip to connect lights and timer; and a 50-foot extension cord to connect the card unit to the power supply. All supplies must be labeled to ensure proper return.
“By participating in this community event your organization agrees to set up an appointment with Parks and Recreation to place your cards on the lawn in the designated location,” reads the guidelines. “Appointments will start November 19, 2020 at 9 am. Cards need to be removed off the lawn no later than December 30, 2020. Your spot will be assigned prior to set up and appointments must be made for set up. Do Not set up at any time other than the time allocated without prior arrangements with the County Representative.”
Administrators ask “that everyone please make sure your boards are refreshed and looking great. We are asking for everyone to submit a photo of their boards this year. Please remember to purchase LED spotlights as we will be limited on electricity. Spots will be assigned on a first-come first-served basis. On the set-up day spots will be labeled as to who goes where. Please DO NOT place your card anywhere other than your designated location.”
Minnie says that, while most cards are submitted by Hernando businesses and associations, individual artists also are encouraged to submit, with applications accepted through Dec. 1.
This year, cards can be seen both at the Brooksville courthouse and Hernando Park.
“Next year,” said Minnie, “The exhibit will be seen exclusively at Hernando Park.”
Minnie believes that Christmas Cards on the Lawn will, as always, brighten the holidays here in Hernando.
“When people see these cards they will bring them cheer, and remind them of good things,” said Minnie. “People need to think of happy things right now, and Christmas Cards on the Lawn has such a family, small-town feel.”
“We want to bring the community together,” she said.
Henry Cole would be proud.