To know my mom is to know that she has never indulged in cutesy stuff. Every year she always selects the Christmas stamp that features a classic painting of Madonna and Child. She asks if they have any classic Christmas stamps and the man pulls out a couple of sheets of last year's Madonna and Child. Mom notices he doesn't seem happy and he says to her, "These are all I have and they'll be the last you ever see." Mom asks, "What do you mean?" He explains the USPS will not be issuing any more "religious" stamps.After all these years of having a choice between the religious-themed and the non-religious-theme seasonal stamps, now all must choose the Santas and snowmen. So ends an American tradition that meant a lot to a lot of people. What was the point? No one had to pick the Madonna stamps. The Post Office makes millions off of people sending out Christmas cards. I think many people preferred the Madonna stamps because they reproduced beautiful works of art, from the grand historical tradition of depicting the Madonna and Child. The notion that the religious side of Christmas is something only Christians appreciate is actually quite wrong. I'll bet there are plenty of non-believers who prefer the religious imagery to the commercial-secular things that lack a beautiful art tradition. Leonardo da Vinci did not paint snowmen and Santas.
UPDATE: The commenters question Darleen's postal clerk and dig up some links. So I wouldn't take that story to mean that the Post Office has abandoned the stamps. I've added a question mark to the post title. Let my post serve the purpose of making part of the argument for retaining the stamps, for those who are feeling Newdowish about them. There's a lot of discussion about whether government should be issuing Madonna stamps, and I think it's still an interesting question, whether the policy has been changed or not.
IN THE COMMENTS: Darleen comes by and says:
I did offer my mom's story as an anecdote about what she was told, unsolicitied, over the counter, at her local PO. Not just about the stamps but about the "Happy Holiday" greeting in lieu of "Merry Christmas".
Via phone to USPS customer service I was unable to get a definitive answer on whether or not there WILL be religious stamps offered in the future.
A 2006 Madonna and Child design was presented in August to reporters at a Stamp show I have been unable to get a confirmation that the USPS is actually going to issue it next year.