Christmas Cheer: Time to Keep in Touch

Thinking of you

Christmas cards have evolved alongside improvements in photography and printing techniques. Cards can be very useful as images when you don’t have the right picture so think about saving them as they reflect the priorities of the society or times in which they were produced. Christmas cards may include words, verses, motifs or pictures and may or may not be religious. What does Christmas mean today? How can cards help us with our family stories?

First Christmas Card, JC Horsley 1846. Wiki Commons

Changing Times

Perhaps Christmas trees, Santa, food, presents, holidays, church services and carols, but most especially it means family and keeping in touch. Cards often feature a treasured person, place or thing & evoke feelings such as happiness, joy or regret through both the image & the message. According to the Smithsonian, the first Christmas Card was created in 1846 as a quick and easy means of replying to letters and shows a family sharing a meal and helping the poor.

Christmas Past

A search on Trove results in many early Christmas cards showing how they were thinking of their loved ones, even though they may have been many miles apart. The National Library of Australia has an 1855 card An Australian Giant which wishes ‘A Joyous Christmas’, but it must have had real meaning for selectors and their families who were struggling to clear the land at this time.

An Australian Giant-A Joyous Christmas E. Roper c. 1855 nla 343552

Christmas Now

Closer to home, you may have family photographs of children with Santa, your family get-togethers or stories of those who have passed and traditions like sending cards, cooking, decorating the house or Xmas tree. Today, we can use our precious photos to produce all kinds of gifts such as cards, calendars or photobooks. This year’s digitisation project and family photobook will be my gift to my family. As Covid has forced many of us to reassess our lives and relationships, we may find alternate ways to share the Christmas spirit. Consider joining the ABC Classic choir or the Couch choir, sing away & send in your video to be included in their festive offerings, no matter where you are! Fortunately, it’s up to you how conspicuous you make yourself but it’s a wonderful way to celebrate and great fun!

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