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New Jersey Friends Stick To Holiday Tradition, Send Same Christmas Card Back And Forth For 4 Decades

NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) -- A Christmas card shared for more than 40 years is the tie that binds two friends from New Jersey.

CBS2's Meg Baker has more on their special holiday tradition.

The edges are worn. On the back, there's a small tear. The message reads, "A season of peace and serenity" and "Many good wishes for the holiday season and the coming year." It is dated and with initials from 1980 through 2021.

"It's got some holes," Laurie Matthews said.

"It's in better shape than me, I think," Karen Petillo added.

Matthews and Petillo met in 1980 when their then-boyfriends were in the Hamilton Fire Company.

"We became friends instantly. We did holidays together," Matthews said.

"I told Laurie, I said, 'I got this card and it's driving me crazy. I don't know who sent it,'" Petillo said.

Matthews was busy preparing for her wedding while sending cards out.

"She said, 'That's my card,' and I said, 'Well, you didn't sign it.' She goes, 'Yeah, I did.' I said, 'No, you didn't,' and I showed it to her. So, we had a good laugh," Petillo said. "So then I had the idea to send it back to her the next year."

The same card has been sent back and forth for 41 years.

"I'm usually the one who loses it," Petillo said.

In 2013, the note reads, "Lost but now I'm found."

"Has this always kept you bonded?" Baker asked.

"Sort of. We kind of lost touch with each other, but then life got crazy," Matthews said.

The friends recently met up in person after having not seen each other for 35 years. Matthews now lives in Florida.

"I get emotional. It was like we never separated, but we did do a four-hour lunch. We had so much to catch up on and I know I'm going to keep in touch with her more now," Matthews said.

Matthews and Petillo joke that if something happens to one of them their oldest children have to carry on the tradition.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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