Friday, 5 December 2014

So this is Christmas - Christmas Cards

1901 card to my great grandmother
Christmas cards - well haven't they changed over the years? I remember being given six Christmas cards by my mother (I was in primary school) and being told that I could choose the recipients. Such power, I spent hours making a list, crossing out names, adding more, crossing them out again until I got to the magical six. 
1903 card to my grandmother

Then there was the decision about what to write on the cards. Just Merry Christmas love Helen. Or Happy Christmas love Helen. Or just love Helen below the verse. Decisions, Decisions... When I had finally decided I sat down and very carefully, with pen and ink, and a blotter at hand wrote inside my allotted six cards. I asked my mother to address the envelopes for me though I did stick the stamps on.

1890 card to my great grandmother
My grandmother, the champion of Christmas as I have mentioned previously, had a great system of Christmas cards. Nan had a blue covered notebook in which she recorded the following: who sent cards last year; who she sent cards to last year; and most importantly who didn't send a card last Christmas. If that happened two years in a row the unfortunate person was crossed off the list with a notation attached to the name . You seriously didn't want to be crossed out and noted.

My mother had learned the important Christmas card protocol from her mother and had her own card notebook. Her's was red. Just as her mother did, Mum agonized over the Christmas card list. Should she send a card to the nice lady around the corner who always had a smile & a wave? Of course the butcher, the milkman, the bread man and any other tradesman got a card, including the rubbish man. The rubbish man always got a bottle of beer with his card - supposedly because if he got a bottle of beer he wouldn't spill the rubbish!

1898 card to my great grandmother
Now, how where they displayed? My Nan had red cord that was strung across the lounge windows - which ere curved - and small pegs to attach the cards. Once again there was a specific order to the cards of course.  Cards from family were all together, then other relatives, then friends and so on. Mum on the other hand pinned the cards to curtains all around the dining room and lounge. She was more artistic - cards that looked good next to one another etc.

1899 tag to my great grandmother
After Christmas I was allowed to pick out some of the prettiest cards from both Nan's  and my mother's collection so that I could cut out pieces and put them in my scrapbook.

So you can see how cards looked in the late 19th century and early 20th century, very different to how they look today. 

I am lucky to have these few precious items from times past. Thanks to Sharn White for reminding me of these Christmas memories.

By the way, the first Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on the 1st of May 1843. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each. (Thanks to Wikipedia)
Merry Christmas 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment