Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Mysterious Christmas Card

cover ofthe mysterous Christmas Card with a sled adorned wiht a wreath and male and female cardinals

Hello fellow readers, May I share a story of the mysterious Christmas card that landed in our mailbox with messages addressed to all. The unaddressed envelope has a lovely illustration of a male and female cardinal. Red cardinals, the males, are often featured in Christmas decorations. But the beautiful, though less flashy females are sadly sometimes overlooked.

Why cardinals are featured at Christmas
a closeup of a red male cardinal

Photo by Mike Niven

Some say red cardinals represent the blood of Christ. Others, not only Christians, trust when they see a red cardinal; it’s a sign from their dearly departed—a symbol of hope and comfort.

Though primarily seed, fruits, and “green” eaters such as grasses and tree buds, insects comprise thirty percent of a cardinals’ diet, including garden pests. Beyond that, their color decorates our word all year long as they do not usually migrate. You can keep them in your yard in winter by enticing them with sunflower seeds and providing a water source. There are nifty water heaters you can buy for your birdbath to keep it from freezing.

Northern Cardinals mate for life, which is why seeing the more subtly beautiful female on the mysterious card pleases me. Besides that, their light brownish-gold feathers with red accents are gorgeous too.

a brownish-gold female cardinal in a swath of green groundcover

Photo by Mike Niven

About the mysterious Christmas card 

The cover, fancier than most Christmas cards, illustrates an old-time sled donning a wreath with a “Merry Christmas” greeting. Below it, the male and female cardinals are looking at a white church in the background. The snowy scene is glistening with glitter.

Inside reads, “Wishing you a Joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year.” The card is not signed, but there is an insert with a poem of sorts. I googled a few lines to see if there is someone to give credit to, to no avail. But just in case, I’m paraphrasing the powerful sentiment and wisdom shared.

Finding one in a snowbank adds to the mystery.

But before I do, a side note. I often start my message to you by dictating onto my phone as I walk the roads for exercise and meditation. In so doing, I came across the same greeting card and enclosure in a snowbank on an empty lot; the house recently demolished. Only the stand for a mailbox remains. Finding the same card there adds to the mystery. Perhaps everyone in town received the message?

a mysterious unaddressed Christmas card in snow on the side of the roadIn boldface, the insert starts with My Dear Friends, in a typeface like a headline. Below it, poem-like lines begin with sentiments of letting go of hate, sorrow, and blaming others. And to stop reprimanding others for not thinking the way we think. Reach into your faith and treat others with compassion, kindness, and generosity so that we can build a community of peace.

Imagine if we all did just that, what a beautiful world it would be.

Together we “Can and Will” …

Like most holiday cards, it wishes for joy, love, and peace, but it starts each of the wishes with strong words of commitment and encouragement.  That together, we “can and will” welcome these gifts of Love, Joy, and Peace.

The only identification from the person or family who shared the card is how the poem closes. “From your Blairstown neighbor; our Christmas wish to you for health, happiness, and well-being.”

Whoever you are that sent the mysterious card, let us all send your wishes forward. Merry Christmas.

Garden Dilemmas? (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)

You’ll enjoy a column inspired by my birder buddy and photographer Mike Niven Bird Fodder



Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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