The U.S. Postal service and the Greeting Card Association estimate more than 1 billion Christmas cards are sent each year. Some of those cards mailed from places with festive holiday names — like Christmas Valley, Oregon — to get a special postmark.
Christmas Valley is a quiet, farming town in Lake County. No reindeer, but plenty of pronghorn. No sign of Santa, but then again, the Air Force radar station east of town has been shuttered for decades.
“We’re kinda in the middle of nowhere,” said Darell Krabill, who oversees the contract post office.
The cancellation stamp is unique.
“This is the ice skate with the spur on it that we only use at Christmas time,” Krabill said.
Look at it like the fancy bow on the package.
“The special postmark. It makes it so much fun,” said Stephanie Stirm from Rogue River.
A stamp so special, Christmas fanatics send their annual tidings of joy to this tiny outpost just to get it.
“We used to get international requests all the time. They’d mail a card or two,” Krabill said.
After about 30 years in the business, Krabill has witnessed the changes in how folks use the mail.
“Oh definitely the parcels have picked up a lot,” Krabill said.
A pandemic sparked a proliferation of packages. So much that Krabill says, “Christmas doesn’t seem like a big of a deal as it used to.” That goes for holiday cards, too.
“People would mail a box of cards or drive out here and bring their cards even,” Krabill said.
It’s a tradition Stirm is revisiting.
“I’m traveling to Idaho to visit my mother-in-law,” Stirm said. “I’ve done it in the past but it’s been a few years.”
“It’s the electronic age. Everybody’s just gotten used to email or texting. It’s just easier to do that,” Krabill said.
“I’ve always believed you do it because you want to do it not because of an expectation,” Stirm said.
Krabill said when he started on Dec. 11, 1993, there was a cart on wheels that was about torso-high. It was piled high with cards waiting for the unique Christmas Valley postmark.
But this year?
“Probably have less than 10 this year so far,” Krabill said.
In a town where the streets have names that’ll put you in the holiday spirt — Snowflake Road, Candy Road, Jingle Bell Road and Snowman Road — the decline in the volume of letters sent here for the special Christmas cancellation leaves Krabill a little blue.
“It is kind of sad,” Krabill said.
“I haven’t told anyone I did it so it will be interesting to see how many people notice it this year,” Stirm said.
So if you want the special spurred skate on your Yuletide greetings, send your stamped and addressed cards to Christmas Valley.
Christmas Valley Post Office
86957 Christmas Valley Highway
Christmas Valley, OR 97641
But remember this.
“It’s a rather large cancellation. So if the card is small and they wrote the address up really high, we cannot use it,” Krabill said.
There are dozens of towns across the country with holiday names including Joseph, Oregon. The post office there says they see a few senders seeking a postmark, but they don’t have a special Christmas cancelation stamp. Here is a list of U.S. Post Offices with Christmas names.