Fragments of a Family

I have a stack of cards from the Ward family. I don’t know them, but I feel like I do just from reading the bits and pieces of their lives. The cards were jumbled in a drawer in an antique mall and as I started leafing through them, I noticed they all seemed to be from the same family. They're from the early 1900s, and I think they were originally pasted in a scrapbook but to sell them individually, the antique mall had ripped them out. I wish I could have seen the entire scrapbook but from what’s left, I like to imagine that these odds and ends of their lives tell the family’s story.

There are gift tags to children Helen, Edwin, Kenneth, Marion and Winifred from Auntie Kate and Auntie Belle. Bookmarks and bridge cards, a Christmas place card with an address in New York City, notes and invitations to birthday parties. A poem written in 1881 to a young Marion from Mr. Ward while in Washington, DC. Beautiful, colorful images with gorgeous penmanship. I like to think the fragments seem to say that this family celebrated the events of their lives. I like to think that Auntie Kate and Auntie Belle doted on their nieces and nephews. And that someone in their family cared enough to commemorate the events of their busy lives by pasting a memento in a scrapbook. Just when I think I have all of the pieces that the Ward family left behind, I’ll open a note from my mother to find another card from their scrapbook. Somehow she unearths one last remnant when she visits the antique mall and sends it to me as a surprise in the mail. 

It seems sad though, that the scrapbook ended up in an odds and ends drawer in an antique mall and not with a friend or family member. I don’t want the Ward family's carefully pasted memories to be lost and forgotten. They tell a story of a family, and as I read their words, it makes me want to tell my own story. So I keep their beautiful cards. Slid between ribbons on a memory board hanging on my wall. And I remember them. Even though I never knew them. 

In my own odds and ends drawer, I have a card my dad gave me on my very first Christmas when I was three months old. It's the first card in my story. It has a darling poem about Santa on one side and on the other my dad wrote, “The most precious and joyous bundle of all! Love, Daddy.” And on Santa’s fur-trimmed coat, he wrote, “You make our Xmas complete.” Maybe someday my cards and notes and letters will end up jumbled in a box in an antique mall, where strangers will casually rifle through them. But these fragments are just a suggestion of the story of a life. A life that has the opportunity to encourage, support and give. A life full of celebrations, love, faith and a whole lot of joy.


  1. Oh my goodness, how sweet! I can't believe you have a note from your father from when you were just three months old. That is so touching. I love the story of the Ward family. I bet they never dreamed their scraps and memories would be cherished by another one day.

    1. Christy,
      I feel the keeper of their scraps -- and I'm happy to do that! :)

  2. What a lovely article - so very special that you have the card from your dad....what a true 'treasure'! So nice that you found such happy memories of the Ward family - I know that your own 'treasures' will someday be treasured by other family members......many years down the road! Great pictures - have a wonderful Christmas, full of happy memories that will fill your heart for many years to come!!

    1. Sharon,
      Thank you! I guess if somehow my scraps end up in an antique mall, I would hope someone would "adopt" my scraps too, someday!

  3. This was beautiful! I feel the same way about antique postcards I pick up at various stores. I love the window it gives you into people's lives at that time.

  4. Thank you Amy! I love how we both see the beauty in such a small note like a postcard and the impact just a few words can have!


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