Double Take: Christmas Tradition

While recently browsing through the National Photo Company collection, I paused when I saw this photograph.

Dickey Christmas tree, 1913. Photo by National Photo Company, 1913. hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.31259

Dickey Christmas tree, 1913. Photo by National Photo Company, 1913. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.31259

My first thought was “what happened to the top of the tree?” After puzzling about the tree for a while, I looked closer at the gathering of the Dickey family. I had to smile as I have been in many family portraits where it has proved an impossible task to get all the children to look at the camera with happy faces.

In my curiosity, I searched further and I was amazed to find the National Photo Company took Christmas photographs of this family for the next 10 years!

Raymond Dickey, Christmas Tree, 1915. Photo by National Photo Company, 1915. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.32422

Raymond Dickey, Christmas Tree, 1915. Photo by National Photo Company, 1915. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.32422

Dickey Christmas tree, 1918. Photo by National Photo Company, 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.33126

Dickey Christmas tree, 1918. Photo by National Photo Company, 1918. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.33126

I think I am fascinated by these photographs because despite the awkward-sized trees and the amusing facial expressions, they epitomize the spirit of holiday tradition and gathering with family. The 1923 photograph below was the last taken in the series of the Dickey family. The parents have aged and the children have grown, but the ritual of taking a Christmas tree photograph remains the same.

Dickey Christmas tree, 1923. Photo by National Photo Company, 1923. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.30612

Dickey Christmas tree, 1923. Photo by National Photo Company, 1923. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.30612

Do you have any treasured holiday traditions?

Christmas Puck / Frank A. Nankivell 1906. Print by Frank Nankivell, December 5, 1906. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.26118

Christmas Puck / Frank A. Nankivell 1906. Print by Frank Nankivell, December 5, 1906. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.26118

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4 Comments

  1. Liz Osborn
    December 8, 2016 at 11:13 am

    I love this series and look forward to the next entry.

  2. Lisa
    December 8, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Great photos. They never did manage to find the top of their Christmas tree.

  3. Olivia Morrissette
    December 12, 2016 at 2:22 am

    It’s interesting to look at family photos and observe what they show about the dynamics among the members of the family. Mr. Dickey must go to work every day to support the rest of the Dickeys, but in these photos he never touches any of them. In the photo from 1915, he’s shoved so far to the rear, you barely see him.

    I think the 1922 photo is the saddest one. No smiles, no contact, no happiness anywhere; it’s Christmas, but each member of the family looks emotionally cut off from the others. I wonder what distress went on among them, year after year.

  4. Merry Christmas Images 2016
    December 20, 2016 at 5:55 am

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