When I was in Catholic elementary school, the nuns gave us holy cards as presents or rewards. A holy card is smaller than a playing card. It usually has a picture on one side of the Holy Family, a saint, or an angel; and is either blank or has a verse or prayer on the other side. One is supposed to keep it near to remind the believer to pray or trust in the faith. By the time I finished the 8th grade, I had acquired a stack of these. I still own some from those days, and I use them as bookmarks in my Bible and my books of devotions. In high school and college, I used a holy card as a bookmark in the textbooks of my most difficult classes.
When I taught school, my specialty was Remedial Reading, English, and ESL, all subjects that required the students to read on a daily basis in my classroom. Since I could not hand out holy cards in a public school, I gave the students bookmarks I bought at school supply stores. If money was tight, I assigned a classroom contest where the students designed bookmarks. I chose the top best and ran them off, cut them up, and distributed them. The designers loved seeing their name printed at the bottom of the bookmarks, especially if they found me using one of theirs for personal use.
I also recycled old playing cards and made these “bookmarks” available next to the library stacks in my classroom. I used Uno, Old Maid, Go Fish, and the old alphabet and numbers cards from my children’s pre-school days. The kids got a kick out of this and my supply was often depleted. When I taught high school, I offered the students old Bicycle Playing Cards that had grown unusable from HoneyBunch and his family’s avid bridge games.
What can I say? I love to read and the bookmark is an important accessory. I am tickled when someone sneaks a pretty keeper into a birthday card or on Mother’s Day. Some in my collection are elegant beauties from foreign places; others are miniature works of art, but I do not want for bookmarks. I love using old tickets from Broadway plays or concerts I’ve enjoyed. I have also used parking lot receipts, old airplane tickets, and, I confess, I have availed myself of colorful cardboard paint swatches one gets in the paint department.
The bookmark, like the holy card, is a marker in space and time. A respite where we take a moment to breathe, get on with aspects of life that need attention, and come back to a warm welcome.