It seems that regardless of religion, age, or tech saavy-ness, the end of the year is the time to send thoughts to your family and friends. Tons of archival collections have at least one or two holiday cards and it always delights me to see the bold colors and sparkly designs that were created to bring a little light into an otherwise chilly and dark season. Who knows how long this tradition will last in paper–online is just so easy!
Two of my favorite collections ever have shown me that corresponding with artists is something we should all try to do (I am imagining on online dating app that allows you to request a correspondent with artistic skills). Sometimes those artistic correspondents send out beautifully crafted and movingly personal cards. And SOMETIMES, those artistic correspondents do that along with their pets.
Please let me introduce you to Carole Paquette, or rather, I suppose her cats! Ms. Paquette was a correspondent of the incomparably lovely Atha Tehon. As a I was organizing Tehon’s correspondence, I came across this lovely card of a kitty called Cookie. I was utterly charmed, put it aside to photograph, and continued sorting … and then … I found a card with Cookie AND Littl’un. I must confess that at this point, sorting ended and a full on search for more of these cards began! In the end, I found 14 cards showing the lovely lives of Frankie, Cookie, Littl’un, and Kit-ton, dating from 1993 to 2010 (not all cards are dated). This treasure trove of hand made cards filled me with absolute delight and I showed them to every person who stopped by my desk.
Not long after that, I found a few cards similarly sent over the years … documenting another family and pets. Richard and Martha’s cards always included Merritt and Cooper, and although I am not sure if Richard or Martha was the artist, these cards have plenty of humor and charm! Atha Tehon (if you read my post on her, you will know how I feel about her!) made friends easily and kept them all her life–which is obvious by the long-standing relationships that are documented in her collection.
Just a few weeks ago, I was sorting through an addition to the Clement and Sophie Winston papers. Sophie was an artist and she corresponded with loads of artists, including Louise Kellogg Hilbert. Sophie and Clem were savers — and there are dozens of of beautiful holiday cards they they lovingly kept–so again, when I found the card with a fuzzy pup, I smiled and put it aside to share with colleagues (we in Kislak do love our pets and animals). And then … more! I have only found five of these little darlings, but I am not done sorting through the wonders of this most recent addition of the Winston family papers.
Sharing love and friendship at the end of the year doesn’t really need to be about religion or specific holidays, I have found. Clem and Sophie were Russian Jewish immigrants, but they received (and saved) hundreds of Christmas cards. In the end, it is really about letting people know that they are cared for and valued. As we approach the new year, let this be the Special Collections Processing Center’s wish for you … may this coming year be filled with health, peace, community, economic recovery … and, of course, PETS! Happy New Year, readers!