When someone researching bygone eras within a family’s history stops seeking names and dates and takes the opportunity to look around real life in those times, what a different world may appear. The compare-and-contrast mechanism is not something we pursue, but when we stop to smell those genealogical roses on our research journey, there is much that we can’t help but notice.
Having freshly passed by Christmas, I couldn’t help notice the relative simplicity of this Christmas greeting I found from among the Tully family possessions. Not focused on What-I’m-Gonna-Get—or even dwelling on the traditional trappings of the season—this card found a way to put the “Christ back in Christmas” in a most unobtrusive way.
The greeting card was given by Agnes Tully Stevens’ older sister, Lily, to their mother, Catherine Malloy Tully. No date was marked on the card. Since Lily was born in 1880, and Catherine passed away in 1922, that leaves quite a wide span for the date parameters of this item.
In size, this card is not much bigger than an index card, and other than the embossed framework, in shape is not much different than an index card, either. A single sheet of cardstock, it has no markings on the reverse, nor any envelope.
This simple token reminds me that, even in the hustle of city life in places such as the Tully family’s Chicago home, the Christmas holiday itself was once a quieter, more sedate observance.
When we tend to assume that Life has always been just as we’ve known it, a little family history research serves us well to remind us that things were not always the way we’ve grown accustomed to being.
With Christmas Greetings
The noblest thoughts my soul can claim
The holiest words my tongue can frame
Unworthy are to praise the name
More sacred than all other