A Victorian Christmas album

Lula 1 My grandmother Lula. Click on the images to expand them

Searching for anything in My Old House carries certain risks, usually in the form of an interesting distraction (corsets, small bones I still refuse to discuss, or shoe lasts). My latest search turned up my maternal grandmother’s greeting card album, so I’ve completely forgotten what it was I initially sought! The album is a treasure of illustrated birthday and calling cards from friends and relatives, small “reward of merit” cards presented by her teachers, Valentine’s Day cards, Easter cards, and, of course, Christmas cards.

Lula Atlant Roberts McLeod (1876–1958) was a teacher in the schools of central Aroostook County, Maine, before her marriage in December 1899. Christmas cards had gained popularity from their beginnings in the 1850s, and by the 1890s, when my grandmother was teaching, cards with silk fringes were offered. She signed hers “Lula Roberts, Teacher.”

Lula 2In a digital age of animated, musical e-cards and mountains of ubiquitous boxed cards, Lula’s cards are examples of earlier tastes in design and sentiment. No Santa Claus figures here, no red and green colors, only an occasional holly branch or winter scene, and while the sentiments might have religious overtones, her collection is without religious illustration. More popular at the time were spring-like scenes and spring and summer flowers.



Lula 3One Happy New Year card depicts a young girl holding roses, while the Christmas card below it folds open to reveal its Christmas message: “Love and Light/Illume thy night/Glad Joy and Peace/Grow and increase/And bring each year/True Christmas cheer.” There’s not a generic “Happy Holidays!” in the bunch, and certainly no Grinches.




Lula 4One card’s Christmas wish says: “Now Christmas comes with hearty cheer, May kindly thought go round,/And bring to you a glad New Year with Peace and plenty crowned,” a Christmas wish showing no signs of age.






Lula 5

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Jan Doerr

About Jan Doerr

Jan Doerr received a B.A. degree in Sociology/Secondary Education from the University of New Hampshire, and spent a long career in the legal profession while researching her family history. She has recently written and published articles for WBUR.org’s Cognoscenti blog: “Labor of Love: Preserving a 226-Year-Old Family Home and Preparing to Let It Go” and “The Value of Family Heirlooms in a Digital Age.” Jan currently lives with her attorney husband in Augusta, Maine, where she serves two Siamese cats and spends all her retirement money propping up a really old house.View all posts by Jan Doerr