Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Your MAILBOX IS FULL

There's no shortage of political holiday greetings

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Christmas comes but once a year.

Which is probably a good thing for mailroom staff on Parliament Hill and in legislatures across the country.

Literally thousands upon thousands of holiday cards are issued by MPs and MLAs each December, extolling the virtues of the season and best wishes for a new year to constituents, donors, and even lowly journalists.

It is a once-a-year chance to set aside partisan thoughts and share a season's greeting.

Most MPs include their families in their cards, with photos of children and spouses and occasionally pets. Some, like Nova Scotia Liberal Gerald Regan, use it as a family annual update, with news of his children's pursuits and achievements.

Others, like B.C. Conservative Wai Young or Saskatchewan Liberal Ralph Goodale, use local art from their regions to adorn the front page.

Gary Doer, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., kept it simple with a photo only of the embassy Christmas tree. The card bears the names of both Doer and his wife, Ginny Devine, although Doer's is the only signature.

Perhaps most important is the greeting chosen.

While Doer and federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair stayed entirely politically correct with a "Seasons Greetings" in both official languages, Prime Minister Stephen Harper went both politically correct and all-inclusive.

Harper is joined by his wife Laureen and their children Ben and Rachel at the front of the card, looking out from a sofa at 24 Sussex to wish one and all Happy Holidays. But inside, the family in a different photo adds "Merry Christmas", "Happy Chanukah" and "Seasons Greetings," also all in both French and English.

A year ago Harper was hit with criticism for using a photo from the family's 2010 photo shoot for his 2011 cards. This year, the family found the time to pose for a new photo, and as usual all four of them signed their names -- albeit only once. Most of the cards bear an automatic stamp of their signatures. It's a lot to ask a man in charge of one of the world's biggest economies to spend hours signing thousands of cards. Asking teenagers to do it is downright cruel.

In the future, the Harpers can use the cards as a scrapbook of their lives at 24 Sussex. Harper's children have literally grown up on their cards.

From their homes to yours, here are a few samplings of cards making their way through the mail this holiday season.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 24, 2012 B1

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