A Richmond resident barely escaped the loss of a 57-year-old family tradition after an annual delivery of Christmas stamps failed to arrive in the mail.
Tara Dewerson and her cousin, Maureen Valleau, have been sending the same restaurant napkin – filled with a growing collection of the BC Lung Association’s Christmas stamps – back-and-forth as part of a tradition started by their grandmother in 1962.
This year was Dewerson’s turn to send the napkin back to her cousin, but she started to panic when no holiday stamps from the association came in the mail as Christmas quickly approached.
“I was getting worried when I didn’t get any (stamps),” said Dewerson, adding that she immediately got in touch with the BC Lung Association, hoping they had stamps left at their office.
“Luckily, they had the stamps at their office so I went down to get one.”
In 1962, Dewerson’s grandmother sent a napkin with a stamp on it to her sister.
On the napkin, a short message is printed with a little saying:
“To my sister … Cards are costly I’m forced to send this to express my greetings with a real Christmas wish. When a card has been sent ‘tis of no further use, but this comes in handy after pudding and goose…”
Five years later, Dewerson’s mother, Sandra Sheppard, decided to join the Christmas tradition by sending her own stamped napkin to her cousin, Judy Valleau.
“We keep it safe and every year we pull it out for Christmas, but the most difficult thing is to remember who has the napkin,” said Sheppard, adding that one year, her cousin couldn’t find the napkin.
“Judy couldn’t find (the napkin), so she sent a letter to (the) BC Lung Association and told them what we do and (asked) if there was any way we could get any stamps from the previous years. Thankfully, she found it before Christmas.”
Sheppard sent her last napkin in 2011 when her cousin passed away, thereafter passing the tradition onto her daughter and niece.
Dewerson explained that her biggest fear is “losing the napkin,” adding that “One year, I placed the napkin in a picture frame and hung it on my wall to remind me that I had it and was in charge of getting a stamp and sending it next Christmas.”
It is unknown to Sheppard and Dewerson why only the association’s stamps were used, but they believe it was “because they were sent to (Dewerson’s grandmother) every year.”