Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Christmas Guest

I love finding old Christmas cards at estate sales.

Christmas cards convey their messages of joy, hope, good will and love in all sorts of ways.  Some are sentimental, some are funny; others just cover the basics by saying "Merry Christmas" or "Season's Greetings." If the sender is truly a person of few syllables, the card reads "Noel" or just "Joy."

There's something special about an old Christmas card -- the artwork speaks of a different era, showing design elements that were popular at the time.  

Here is another old Buzza Company Christmas card, originally mailed in 1930. (Previously, I've shared images of other Buzza cards on this blog.) The gorgeous heavy paper has a hand-torn right edge, and the artwork seems to place a Victorian lady and gentleman in an Art Deco world.  Look at the delicacy of the tree branches.

Inside this gorgeous old card, the Christmas verse is not only significant -- it also tells us the name of the author, Edgar A. Guest.

"God Bless You!" That expresses it
In simple words and true
It's what the heart of me would say
If it could speak to you.
May every day be Christmas Day
Until your journey's end,
Is just the simple wish of one
Who's glad to call you friend.

-- From the writings of Edgar A. Guest
(Copyright) The Buzza Co.

Edgar Guest (1881-1959) was born in Birmingham, England, but his parents moved to Detroit, Michigan when he was a boy. When he was 14, Guest got a job as a copy boy for the Detroit Free Press; he moved up the ranks and worked there for 65 years.  The paper published his poetry, then a weekly column called "Breakfast Table Chat" that was syndicated to more than 300 newspapers throughout the United States.  The Buzza greeting card company also licensed his verses, as we see in the example above.

Edgar A. Guest, via Wikimedia Commons

Guest also appeared on radio and TV.  He had a weekly show on NBC Radio from 1931 to 1942.  In 1951, “A Guest in Your Home” appeared on NBC television. 
Edgar A. Guest has been called “the poet of the people;" he considered himself “a newspaper man who wrote verses.” 

A cynic probably wonders why, or even if, Edgar A. Guest's simple poetry still resonates with people in the early 21st century.  Apparently, it does, and in ways Guest probably would have been delighted to see.  

I went on the YouTube website and found several videos based on "See It Through," one of Guest's most famous works. This young man recites the poem as he works out:

A number of student video projects have used "See It Through," several of them related to success in sports:

It's even the basis for a car commercial:

Here's a short but very interesting take, written by a scholar, on the importance of Edgar A. Guest:

The website has a biography of Edgar A. Guest:

Here's a recording of Sir Ben Kingsley reading "My Creed," by Edgar A. Guest:

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