Sitting at a work table in her Henderson home, Janet Brewer glues strips of green paper onto a blank, white card.
The paper is meticulously aligned to take the shape of a holiday wreath.
Hours after cutting, shaping and stenciling multiple sheets of paper, Brewer has successfully created some of her homemade Christmas cards.
“I’ve been doing this for more than 40 years,” she said. “People have come to expect them. They come up to me in October saying they look forward to seeing this year’s design, which is fine unless I still haven’t thought of my design.”
Each year Brewer invests in ribbons, expensive papers and an arrangement of other materials to come up with a new holiday card to send to friends across the globe.
Since 1968, Janice Boyd, a former college roommate who now lives in Iowa, has looked forward to the cards.
“They are so much fun,” Boyd said. “They are a lot better than store-bought cards.”
She added that she admires the creativity that Brewer puts into the cards each year.
Beyond Christmas, Boyd has even received a few homemade birthday cards from Brewer. But Christmas is Brewer’s main time for card-making.
Ideas have varied.
One year, the cover featured a cutout of her parents’ home. Another year, it was painted pieces of rice glued on to look like a tree.
“When I first started, I had more time,” she said.
Brewer started the tradition when she first got married.
Her husband, Klaus, was in the military so Brewer moved to Germany where he was stationed.
Her first Christmas abroad, she decided to try her hand at making cards.
“I was away from family, so maybe that’s why it became so important,” she said.
Her husband’s military career eventually moved the family to Henderson in 1978, when Brewer began teaching at McCaw Elementary School.
Decades and 11 houses later, Brewer has collected more than 100 people on her Christmas card list.
While employed at McCaw, she said it was difficult to stay on top of the project.
She always aimed to start making the cards during Thanksgiving break, but with a hectic school schedule, on top of other holiday obligations, she sometimes didn’t get started until later.
“The cards usually arrive late,” she said.
Regardless, she would collect magazines throughout the year, cutting out advertisements she could draw inspiration from for an upcoming design.
One of her favorite ideas has been a card with a tree on the cover designed from velvet ribbon.
“I can’t just do construction paper and glue,” she said. “That’s too elementary school.”
She has been retired for eight years and hopes to have more time to enjoy the craft. She is still as committed as ever to designing her cards.
“I figure I can’t break tradition,” she said. “It’s bad luck.”
With dozens of cards left to finish, Brewer is spending even more time to complete the project.
No matter how many cards she completes or whom she sends them to, Brewer knows her mother is the first one who will receive the card.
“She can tell me how the cards survived the post office,” she said. “She also lets me know how late or how early they arrived.”
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.