In 1957, Cassie Hill was feeling very grown up.
She had just gotten married to her beau, Jim Hill, and they were enjoying newlywed bliss. Cassie Hill stopped by the store and picked up a little blue Christmas card with the north star shining on a small winter village to send to her best friend, Cindy Gannon.
“Love for a beautiful Christmas. See ya in about a week. – Cassie and Jim,” the first entry reads.
The next year, Gannon, a newlywed herself with a small child, sent the same card back, and a tradition was born.
Now, 65 years later, the little card still travels between the two women each year, marking the many changes in their lives over the decades.
“I can’t even believe it – 65 years ago,” Cassie Hill said as she pulled the card out earlier this month. “We kept it going.”
In 1951, Hill’s family moved to Tulare, California, ahead of her freshman year of high school. A kind teacher set up a little luncheon for the newcomer before the first day of classes, she recalled.
Gannon was at the lunch, and the pair, along with three other girls, became fast friends. They stayed close all through high school.
Shortly after graduation, Gannon married. She took on adult life, sharing all she learned with her friend. Not long after, Hill took the plunge herself, wearing a wedding dress made by Gannon.
Gannon is eclectic and artistic, Cassie Hill said.
“She’s creative. She’s fun. She’s funny,” Cassie Hill said. “She has a wonderful sense of humor.”
As the two friends built their own lives, they continued to exchange the card. By 1972, Cassie Hill had seven children and had landed in Spokane.
“We are 30, such a long time ago. Merry Christmas ’87,” the card reads, marking three decades of exchanges.
Every big life event is noted in the card.
“Retired. Need to tell Oprah about our card ’99,” one entry reads.
A few years later, Gannon wrote, “Oprah never called. All our love. Cindy and Keith.”
By 2007, the pair had used up every inch of space on the card and had to add an insert.
“Our card just keeps chugging along and now we’re 70. Wow!” the entry from that year reads.
That year was significant, Cassie Hill said. The pair, who don’t see each other often, got together for a long-awaited visit.
Hill said she didn’t think exchanging the card was a big deal until they hit their 50th anniversary, and then she realized they had really been through a lot together.
One of Hill’s nine children, Dave Hill, doesn’t remember when he first encountered the card as a child, but he does remember it being a prized possession.
“This card is special, and don’t throw it away,” he recalls being told. “Don’t leave it on the counter.”
When he became an adult, Dave Hill really began to respect the decadeslong bond his mother had fostered.
For his mom, writing Christmas cards to hundreds of people each year is just what you do.
“If you want to keep track of your friends, that’s how you do it,” Cassie Hill said.
The special bond between Gannon and Hill continues, with the pair turning 85 this year.
One recent entry sums up the history, love and friendship the card represents.
“How our lives have changed as we go,” it reads. “Aches and pain but still movin’.”
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