Christmas isn’t just a date on the calendar. And it’s more than a state of mind. It’s a place. Yep, a real bricks-and-mortar address north of the 45th parallel and south of the North Pole—and just a tad west of Munising on M-28. Sorry, Santa and the Missus aren’t there, but you will find Karen and Joe Beauchaine, owners of the Christmas Mall (don’t picture the Mall of America), busily postmarking—by hand—folks’ holiday cards with “Christmas, MI.”

The Christmas Mall isn’t a bona fide post office, but when mail addressed to Christmas, Michigan, arrives at the Munising post office during the holidays, the postal employees there know to bring it over to the Beauchaines for hand stamping. The service is a tradition in Christmas, but no one is sure exactly when it started. In recent memory the postmarking was done at a now-defunct store in Christmas. Later it was stamped at the Munising post office. The Beauchaines took over the labor of love in 1995, a few years after purchasing their convenience store/gift shop. In 1997—the first year they counted—they stamped 11,218 pieces of mail. That figure had climbed to 20,533 by 2002.

The Beauchaines don’t do it alone. Their son, Brady, helps, and so does Kelly, a loyal employee. But they do stamp for free (not including $5 from an elderly widower who sticks the cash in with his bundle of cards every year). More than 20,000 letters hand stamped, no charge. If that isn’t Christmas, we don’t know what is.

To get your holiday cards postmarked Christmas, MI, stamp and address your cards as usual. Then, if you’re up Christmas way, drop them by the Christmas Mall. Or if you just can’t make it to Christmas, box your cards up and mail them to:

Christmas Post OfficeChristmas, MI  49862For more information call the Christmas Mall at 906-387-2195

Story originally published December 2003 issue of Traverse.