Today is my Mum’s birthday: she would have been 91 years old. So this post features some of the birthday cards she received from my Dad over the course of their 40 year marriage. This one, above, is dated 16/3/87 and I can see why Dad chose it for the woman to whom he had been married for 35 years: inside it reads “Those born in March are firm in their convictions, calm in the face of problems”. My mother was certainly a woman of firm convictions, though I can’t in all honesty vouch for the calmness!
Like their Christmas cards, the handful of birthday cards that survive in the archive give a flavour of the changing fashions of greetings cards in those 4 decades from the 1950s to the 1990s. On opening this one, inscribed “To Eleanor, Dear Wife, from Jim, 1959,” a 3-D bunch of purple flowers explodes from the page:
Most of the cards are traditional floral designs, with sweet, touching or plain mawkish verses inside:
Others, like those below, feature scenic views. I’m fairly sure the one on the left, from 1968, is Strand on the Green in Chiswick, not far up the Thames from where we lived; the other reminds me of our holidays in the Surrey village of Churt with Auntie:
This is the oldest one I have, a Medici design featuring “The Shepherd Boy, after the painting by Lenbach”; it is dated 1955, 3 years after they wed:
The tone of the messages inscribed inside by my Dad is as constant as their marriage. He signs himself, decade after decade, “Your ever-loving husband, Jim.” They were never extravagant about birthdays; there would be presents, and fuss, perhaps a cake or flowers, and Mum would get the evening off her usual catering duties. A party or night out was rare, but I don’t think they felt the lack of these things. They were content with each other, and their life together. I know how much these simple, thoughtful cards and messages meant to my Mum though; she was such a romantic at heart.
Happy birthday, Mum.