Here we leap way into the catalogues of Christmas Past – 1882, to be specific.
David Cook’s Book catalog was four pages of holiday-themed merchandise aimed at Sunday School teachers. This was very much an era when, if children were going to learn to read, it was felt they should start with the Good Book, and any other books should follow the same strict moral approach. Everything in these 4 pages was educational and instructive and spiritually uplifting: from the 5-cent Tit-Bit Story Series, to the 15-cent The Little Midget’s Library, on up to the grand “Lily Dale” book series at 30 cents.
Yes, there are banners and holiday decorating material, but one look at the tiny woodcut of the Sunday schoolroom reveals an almost Dickensian severity. (Click to zoom in, of course)
If you’re looking for holiday entertainment, you wouldn’t have found it in stories like “Digging a Grave With A Wine Glass,” about the evils of drink. Still, if a child had the “blues” (a fairly early use of the term), then postcard-like “reward cards” featuring rosy, laughing children might be the tonic they needed. Or would the contrast would depress them further? It was pretty cold and lonely on the American midwestern frontier in the 1800s – so at least children were taught to take solace in the fact that Jesus loves you.