HomeNewsPen Pals: Two Friends Have Sent Same Christmas Card Back and Forth for 40 Years

Pen Pals: Two Friends Have Sent Same Christmas Card Back and Forth for 40 Years

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Francis Dean/Corbis via Getty Images

Christmas cards — a timeless holiday tradition that allows you to send and receive snippets of what’s going on in the lives of people you love that may not live close to you.

While some families use it as an excuse to brag about the achievements of their kids or share note-worthy life achievements, two friends used it as a tether to their over 40-year-long friendship.

For Laurie Matthews and Karen Petillo originally from New Jersey, they share a single Christmas card. It happens to be their very special and personal holiday tradition. The card has a simple message on it, “A season of peace and serenity” and “Many good wishes for the holiday season and the coming year.” 

Friends and Their 40-Year-Old Christmas Card

It is holding up but definitely shows its years. It has a small year, the edges are worn, but Matthews and Petillo love it all the same.

The two friends met about 40 years ago in 1980 when their boyfriends at the time both worked at the Hamilton Fire Company. “We became friends instantly. We did holidays together,” Matthews said to CBS New York.

One year, Petillo got a Christmas card in the mail but had no idea who had sent it to her. Turns out, it was Matthews. She had sent the card while she was busy wedding planning and had apparently forgotten to sign it. Like any good friendship, it was the beginning of a 40-year-long and counting inside joke.

“She said, ‘That’s my card,’ and I said, ‘Well, you didn’t sign it.’ She goes, ‘Yeah, I did.’ I said, ‘No, you didn’t,’ and I showed it to her. So, we had a good laugh. So then I had the idea to send it back to her the next year,” Petillo said regarding the start of the tradition. Both of them also want this tradition to carry on with their oldest children if anything were to happen to them. Long live that Christmas card.

Then, neither one of them wanted to end the tradition. So, this year, they hit year 41. The card was one of the few things that kept them connected over the years. They told the news outlet that they recently met up in person after 35 years apart. Matthews lives in Florida, which means they are thousands of miles apart.

Despite all those miles and all that time, Petillo and Matthews felt as close as ever when they met up.

“I get emotional. It was like we never separated, but we did do a four-hour lunch. We had so much to catch up on and I know I’m going to keep in touch with her more now,” Matthews said.

Accidental Thanksgiving Guest

In 2016, Jamal Hinton got an accidental invitation from Wanda Dench for Thanksgiving.

Hinton took her up on the invite and this past Thanksgiving was the sixth time they met up for the holiday. Hinton shared a picture of their families together over the years captioned “Thanksgiving 2021.”

He also shared a photo in which they are holding up an old photograph of Wanda’s husband who passed away. He was usually there to celebrate with them.