This book-shaped Christmas card, signed inside “With all my love, Jim” is one of the many cards in the family archives that my parents gave to each other over the course of their 40-year marriage. This post features a small selection of their Christmas cards, which give a flavour of changing styles over 4 decades. This one from Mum to Dad in 1960, for instance, is pure 1950s:
All the cards carry tender personal messages. One card from Mum to Dad features a Chinese painting of two birds, with Mum’s handwritten message inside: “Happy Christmas and a Guid New Year to my dearest Jim, with my love and devotion and thanks for all your loving care, Eleanor, 1974”. 1974 was the year of Mum’s cancer scare; I remember visiting her in hospital on my 13th birthday, just 3 weeks before Christmas.
This card, from Dad to Mum in 1966, is inscribed with a poem in his handwriting:
“But kindness, sweet kindness, in the fond sparkling ee,
Has lustre outshining the diamond to me;
And the heart beating love as I’m clasp’d in her arms,
O, these are my lassie’s all-conquering charms!”
The verse, from Robert Burns’ Yon Wild Mossy Mountains, seems especially romantic given that my parents had been married for 14 years at this time. Dad’s humour is also often in evidence. On this home-made gift tag from 1984, for instance, he has added a reference to Mum’s new retirement hobby of upholstery:
I seem to have represented my family life with a picture of someone (me? Mum?) out in wintry weather, juxtaposed with a mother robin bringing presents home to her babies in the nest. It gives a sensation of safety, warmth, and loving care, which was certainly my experience of childhood. The best gift a parent can give.