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The Christmas card the Kennedys never sent
Jacqueline and Jack Kennedy had finished many of their holiday plans before they left for a 2-day campaign trip to Texas on November 21. They planned spending Thanksgiving at the Kennedy’s Hyannis Port estate and Christmas in Palm Beach with JFK’s parents. There was also a televised Christmas pageant at the White House.
The couple had already ordered their Christmas cards, a 4 1/2- by 6 1/2-inch custom-made Hallmark that featured on the outside a photo of an 18th-century nativity scene they had in the White House’s East Room. It was the first time a White House Christmas card used a religious image. The inside had an embossed seal of an American eagle with an olive branch in one talon and arrows in the other.
Five hundred of the cards had the engraved message “With our wishes for a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year” and another 150 said, “With best wishes for a Happy New Year.” The Kennedys planned on personally signing all of them (another 1500 identical cards had been ordered with printed signatures). By the time they left for Dallas, they had only signed 30.
In the wake of JFK’s assassination, the 1963 Kennedy Christmas cards were never sent (one is preserved at the Smithsonian).
While Jackie Kennedy did not mail any cards that year, the public sent nearly 900,000 holiday cards and condolence letters to her. It was the bittersweet ending to what had unexpectedly become a holiday season of mourning.