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Find Your Family - Christmas Cards

Article Date: 
20 December, 2013 (All day)

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is getting the mail. I love Christmas cards. Cards are such a wonderful part of the season, getting to hear from family and friends that we don’t have the opportunity to hang out with as much as we may like. I like the ones that are simply signed and I love the newsy Christmas letters too.
FYI: Christmas cards were not invented by Hallmark. They have existed for about 160 years according to the Postcard & Greeting Card Museum. You can read more online at http://www.emotionscards.com/museum/history.html. 
Several years ago my Aunt Bessie showed me some old Christmas cards that were sent to my great grandmother and my great-great grandmother. Aunt Bessie allowed me to take them and have photocopies made of each card and in return I put the originals into a nice binder in protective sheets so that she could enjoy them for years to come. There was a lot of genealogy on those cards and envelopes. With the names and addresses we could figure who sent the cards and it helped us to track down some of the old family relationships.
What do you do with your Christmas cards after the season is over? Do you save them? Have you inherited some old treasured Christmas cards? They can be used as a way of teaching children about their family history. If you have old Christmas cards, get them out and talk about who sent them. Enjoy the art that is on them and talk about how things have changed over the years.
There is a variety of ways you can preserve Christmas cards for posterity. You can place them in an archival medium, like a scrapbook, page protectors or acid free box.
While the beautiful cards Aunt Bessie shared with me didn’t have my ancestor’s signatures, they do have someone’s ancestor’s signatures. Boy, what I would give for Christmas cards with my grandparents and great-grandparent’s signatures!
Think about it. Save some of your Christmas cards as part of your family history.
Holly T. Hansen is the owner of Family History Expos and Celebrating Family History. She can be contacted by email at holly@fhexpos.com.