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A selection of vintage postcards on heavy paper launches this year's 12 Gifts to Our Readers series.

The Christmas season evokes many thoughts, foremost among them holiday traditions that range from the spiritual (celebrating the birth of Christ) to the commercial (the buying frenzy that arises this time of year) to the familial (large gatherings we all enjoy/endure), and many others.

One of the traditions — if three years running can make a tradition — that we most enjoy at the Wisconsin State Journal is our mid-December project: 12 Gifts to Our Readers.

The idea behind 12 Gifts is to offer readers something they’d normally not get in our day-to-day course of business. Some of the gifts show up in print, some of them are online-only, and some are both print and digital.

As noted at the top of this page, our latest 12 Gifts series launches today with a wonderful selection of vintage Christmas cards from days gone by. The eight cards, front and back, are printed on a special, thick-paper insert in today’s newspaper. The heavy stock makes the cards suitable for clipping.

The dates on the cards range from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Most of the cards are ornate, and they all have a distinctly historical feel to them. Printed on the back of each one is information about that card. We’re grateful to the Wisconsin Historical Society for providing the vintage cards and partnering with us on this fun launch to this year’s 12 Gifts project.

The page of vintage cards is just the start of our 12-day series, and the project is really a mix of modern-day fun and nostalgia. On the former, we’ll be offering readers a couple of exclusive videos — one featuring music from Overture’s Tommy Ensemble made up of some of the area’s top high school performers, and one from Lou and Peter Berryman in which the popular local duo offers a couple of entertaining holiday songs of their own.

There will be another taste of nostalgia in the series when we give readers a host of classic Christmas cookie recipes from the State Journal archives. Other gifts include a special guide to watching and attracting winter birds, a helpful column from Dr. Zorba Paster with tips about enjoying a healthy holiday season, and two original offers from our staff cartoonist Phil Hands: a two-page-wide piece of holiday wrapping paper, as well as a poster of our favorite Badgers’ football cartoons from 2017, enjoyable in print and suitable for download from your computer.

We’ll close the 12 Gifts series with one annual favorite on Dec. 24 and another exclusive offer on Christmas Day. On the 24th, readers will enjoy former and longtime staff member George Hesselberg’s latest winter story, a memorable tale made for children and adults, too.

And on the 25th, we’re pleased to offer a sneak peek of artwork and text from a not-yet-published book coming soon from Madison’s own Kevin Henkes, one of the most decorated children’s authors anywhere.

This year’s 12 Gifts to Our Readers is a sweet lineup timed for a sweet time of year. We hope you enjoy the next 12 days of the holiday season, and we hope our project is a part of that enjoyment.

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John Smalley is editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.


John Smalley is the editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.