A New Year's postcard mailed in December 1910.

A framed cross-stitch of two black-capped chickadees sits on the corner of my desk, a present from Daughter #2. It’s proof the art of needlework isn’t completely dead in an age when kids are better at texting than tatting.

The birds are special to me. Any birds. I grew up in a house where my mother raised parakeets, canaries and cockatiels in an aviary adjacent to my bedroom. I awoke each morning to the sound of songbirds. It was a magical time.

Xero, the office cat, would love to have a pet bird to keep him and the rabbit company. Or, at the very least, he would love to have it for lunch. So far I have resisted the temptation to add a feathered friend to our menagerie. But the thought keeps residence in my mind.

For now I’m content to watch the wild birds at feeders beyond my front window. From where I sit, I see those creatures come and go, just as I watch all manner of travelers that perch in the trees on the hill behind the office.

I’ve been picking up holiday postcards with bird themes lately. It’s not a collection; rather, I buy what I like, to display for a while, then rotate another object in its place.  There were Christmas postcards with birds for the yuletide season. This weekend, however, the perfect thing is a New Year’s card showing sparrows perched on holly branches strung through a horseshoe. The card was mailed on December 24, 1910.

While those sparrows help deliver a message of luck for the coming year, a more traditional image can be found on a postcard showing pigs. One fanciful example depicts a pig rolled onto its back, having just been hit by an elf-like character on a bicycle. With four-leaf clovers at two edges, the embossed, German-made card wishes “A Happy New Year.”

Pigs were a symbol of luck at the turn of the 20th century, but the pig on this New Year's card seems to have found misfortune.

Pigs became a symbol of luck in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The lucky pig, Glucksschwein, appeared on German greeting cards, charms, and Christmas ornaments, according to one account. Their likeness was also used for holiday treats. What could be better than a chocolate, peppermint, or marizpan pig? At least we’re not eating Wilbur.

Here’s wishing you a pigpen full of luck in the coming year. Glucksschwein to all!

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