The Poignant Story Of John F. Kennedy's Last Christmas Card Before He Died

By November 1963, John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline (known as Jackie) Kennedy had picked out their Christmas card for the year. Per Smithsonian Magazine, the card was a custom design measuring 4 ½ by 6 ½ inches. It featured a colorized photograph of a Neapolitan creche that remained in the East Room of the White House. Inside was a seal of an American eagle. However, in a moment that changed American history, JFK was assassinated, and the cards were never sent out.

No one could have predicted what would happen on the trip to Texas. Via Town & Country, Kennedy had already looked at that year's Christmas seal campaign — an effort in which proceeds raised from the sale of the seals helped to stop and treat illnesses. Moreover, as reported by Smithsonian Magazine, the couple had already signed a few Christmas cards — with the intention of signing the rest when they returned from that fateful Texas trip.

The cards remained unsent as Jackie Kennedy left the White House

Per the above Smithsonian article, the message inscribed in each card read, "With our wishes for a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year." Some omitted the "Blessed Christmas" section and just said "Happy New Year" instead, perhaps intended for those who did not celebrate the Christmas season. It's likely that, when signed, the Christmas cards would have been sent to heads of state and supporters of John F. Kennedy, as well as close friends and those John and Jackie Kennedy spent a lot of time with.

Following the assassination of her husband, Jackie left the White House on December 6 and moved into a mansion in Georgetown along with her children. Despite her grief, Jackie did not forget those who mattered most to her and her husband following his death. Notably, she gifted a copy of the book "Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States from George Washington 1789 to John F. Kennedy 1961" to both Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Kennedy's Special Assistant Dave Powers.

The former first lady didn't forget those who had stood by her and her husband

In Robert McNamara's copy, Jackie Kennedy wrote, "For Robert McNamara — The President was going to give you this for Christmas — Please accept it now from me — With my devotion always for all you did for Jack. Jackie, December 1963." In Dave Powers' copy, she inscribed, "With my devotion always for all you did to give Jack so many happy hours. You and I will miss him most. Jackie."

In addition to this gift, Jackie gave Powers some photos of himself and John Kennedy Jr. as a memento of how happy he had made the former president — and how he would now do the same for his son. The death of her husband was extremely fresh, but Jackie clearly still valued those who stayed loyal. As for the cards, one remains on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History as a reminder of the Christmas John F. Kennedy never got to have in his second year as president.