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A Merry Christmas to All, from the Kennedy White House

This 17 x 14 inch Christmas card was given by President and Mrs. Kennedy to White House staff in 1962.

This 17 x 14 inch Christmas card was given by President and Mrs. Kennedy to White House staff in 1962.

A lot of us have been opening our mailboxes each day since Thanksgiving to find Christmas cards among the bills and junk mail.

My wife and I have noticed that since a lot of us keep track of our friends’ comings and goings daily through Facebook now, the stacks of Christmas cards are shrinking and the yearly Christmas letters seem to be disappearing from the cards we are getting.

One place where the Christmas cards keep being pumped out from are politicians’ PR machines. And it’s not just the local yokels either. For decades, presidents have sent Christmas cards to political donors and acquaintances. But presidents have also delivered some special Christmas cards to staff and friends. These oversized gift cards have become quite collectible.

The red holder for the 1962 JFK presidential gift Christmas card.

The red holder for the 1962 JFK presidential gift Christmas card.

I was fortunate recently to buy a collection that had one of these wonderful, gift-sized, 14 by 17 inch cards in its original folder. Of these gift cards through the years, the one in this collection is arguably one of the prettiest created – in my opinion. It’s the 1962 card that President and Mrs. Kennedy presented to staff.

“Philadelphia Bulletin” illustrator Edward Lehman sketched some of the White House rooms for a section of the newspaper. Mrs. Kennedy was so fond of the drawings that she asked the artist to paint in watercolor a 20 x 30 inch one of the Red Room at the White House, which she and the president turned into their 1962 gift for the staff.

Some of these cards have eventually made it into collectors’ hands. Fortunately, one recently came home to my house.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all – happy collecting in the year ahead.


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