A Simple, Down-to-Earth Christmas Card from the Great Depression (1933)

The Smith­son­ian sets the scene for this Christ­mas card sent in 1933, a few years into the Great Depres­sion. They write:

Despite the glum eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion, the Pinero fam­i­ly used a brown paper bag to fash­ion an inex­pen­sive hol­i­day greet­ing card. They penned a clever rhyme and added some charm­ing line draw­ings of Mom, Dad, and the kids with the mes­sage: “Oh, well—in spite of it all—here’s a Mer­ry Christ­mas from the Pineros.” On Decem­ber 19, 1933, they mailed it from Chica­go to friends in Mass­a­chu­setts, using a one-and-a-half-cent stamp. For a min­i­mal out­lay of cash, they were able to keep in touch with friends and com­ment on their reduced cir­cum­stances with wit and humor.

This hand-let­tered poem is a delight­ful exam­ple of light verse, a whim­si­cal form of poet­ry intend­ed to enter­tain or amuse, even if treat­ing a seri­ous sub­ject in a humor­ous man­ner. In the poem, the Pineros sug­gest that they had strug­gled eco­nom­i­cal­ly for some time, but now, due to the con­tin­u­ing Depres­sion, oth­ers shared their finan­cial plight, which enabled them to be more open and can­did about their sit­u­a­tion.

Like many fam­i­lies, the Pineros prob­a­bly had lots of bills for neces­si­ties includ­ing rent, gro­ceries, util­i­ties, milk, and ice. Because not every fam­i­ly had elec­tric refrig­er­a­tion in 1933, many relied on reg­u­lar deliv­er­ies of ice to keep their per­ish­able foods cold. These bills for milk and ice were sep­a­rate; they were not part of the gro­cery account. Local dairies sup­plied milk and oth­er prod­ucts on a dai­ly basis. Both the Ice Man and the Milk Man would cometh, as long as they were paid!

It’s a his­tor­i­cal case of when less is indeed more…

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via The Smith­son­ian

Relat­ed Con­tent:

When Sal­vador Dalí Cre­at­ed Christ­mas Cards That Were Too Avant Garde for Hall­mark (1960)

John Waters Makes Hand­made Christ­mas Cards, Says the “Whole Pur­pose of Life is Christ­mas”

Watch Ter­ry Gilliam’s Ani­mat­ed Short, The Christ­mas Card (1968)

Andy Warhol’s Christ­mas Art


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