Tidings of Comfort and Joy
Joy may not be a word often associated with the year 2020. This year has presented numerous hardships and challenges for everyone. However, it has also presented opportunities for us to slow down, explore different hobbies, and develop new skills. Over the course of 2020 I have read more, advanced my cooking and baking skills, attempted (and failed) at crafting and crocheting, and written many, many letters to family and friends.
With everything suddenly being shifted to the online environment, a direction we were likely headed regardless of the events of this year, my email inboxes are out of control. It can even be anxiety inducing at times. Ever since I was a child, my favorite chore was to go and bring in the mail. While this task has lost some of its luster as an adult who receives mostly advertisements, flyers, and bills, I still get excited when I see a letter in my mailbox from a friend or family member.
The holidays are a perfect time to sit down, reflect upon the year, and put pen to paper. I explored the DeGolyer library’s various manuscript collections in search of some holiday greetings and was not disappointed in what I found.
While attending the Haskell Institute in Lawrence in 1898, Kansas, Clara Cedartree writes to her sister about Christmas, and asks her sister for news of their hometown Darlington, Oklahoma. She mentions her Christmas tree and how “it was loaded with things,” including a doll and candies she received from her schoolmates. Cedartree was an Arapaho Indian who published an article entitled “The Old-Time Sun Dance” in the Indian Leader, a Haskell Institute publication. The Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas was a trade school for Native American students. It became Haskell Indian Junior College in 1970.
The letters from Dorothy Dunn, a book reviewer for the “Santa Fe New Mexican”, inlcude a Christmas card and newsletter from Dorothy and her husband Max Kramer. The card features the artwork of Anna T. and is titled Kossa’s Present. In her Christmas newsletter Dorothy recounts a year of travels. The couple spent time in LA and Washington, visiting friends, restaurants and various museums. During the summer months Dorothy “base-camped at 9000’ in [her] aspen grove by the Little Tesque,” and spent time with “treasured Pueblo Indian friends,” cooking over campfires and watching ceremonial dances.
If you find yourself with time on your hands, why not scrawl out a few lines to someone special. And if you need a little more inspiration, explore some more wonderful letters, greetings, and postcards in the DeGolyer’s digital collections.
Here’s wishing you and yours a happy holiday seasons, and a very happy new year in 2021.
Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information or assistance with accessing the collections. Check out the DeGolyer’s newest digital exhibitions Women’s Voices Women’s Votes, and Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion”: James G. Blaine, Grover Cleveland, and the Election of 1884.