It’s November. I need to start planning my Christmas card. I’ve been making my own Christmas cards since I was in college, and I enjoy the process of planning and creating the yearly card. I feel like I’m carrying on a family tradition. Both my mother and my aunt Melissa made cards for special occasions. This one, painted by my mother in 1946, may have been meant for my grandmother, Agnes.
Agnes was born on November 1, 1887 in England, and today I want to celebrate her birthday, just a few days late. When she was six months old her parents brought her across the ocean to Connecticut, where she grew up in a happy household with her parents and brother and three sisters. The Biggs family went to the Episcopal Church in Glastonbury, Connecticut. And even after she joined the Congregational Church in Wallingford when she married my grandfather and came to live on the farm, she remained religious in a practical sort of way – going to church when she was able, and making sure her own children got a Sunday School education.
My grandmother was bright and a good student. Her quick mind and cheerful work ethic endeared her to her childhood Sunday school teacher, J. O. Hulbert, who made and sent exquisite birthday, Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter cards to her for over thirty years. When Agnes married my grandfather Ellsworth Hall in 1913, Mr. Hulbert gave her a Book of Common Prayer with this inscription on the front page.
I’m happy that my grandmother, and then my mother, saved these unique cards. I’m sure they influenced my mother’s love of making things. They’ve certainly been an inspiration to me. I admire the care and thought and skill that went into creating such treasures. And I try to picture my grandmother, who I only knew as a mature woman, standing in her parlor wearing her best dress and delighting in the birthday greetings so beautifully made just for her. Happy Birthday Agnes!
On Wednesday: TV Dinners