An Intimate Look at JFK’s Last Christmas that He Spent with His Family in Palm Beach
The man in the white shirt and mustard-colored slacks handed out and hung up stockings, watched his young children put on a nativity scene, and played with them on the floor.
It was Christmas Day, 1962, and then President John F. Kennedy looked relaxed and happy surrounded by his family. His youngest child, two-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr sat on the lap of his mother, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and played with the family dog, Charlie. JFK’s eldest child, Caroline Kennedy, then five, was seen with her arms thrust out and gave a baby Jesus doll to her grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
Jacqueline Kennedy’s younger sister, Lee Radziwill, was also there with her husband, Prince Stanislaw Radziwill of Poland, and their daughter Anna Christina.
The Kennedys were celebrating their Christmas where they often did: Palm Beach, Florida. This time, however, they were not at the family home but rather had rented out the residence of C. Michael Paul.
It was the last time Camelot would be together for the holiday.
It hadn’t been an easy year for the 35th president. In October, the Cuban Missile Crisis ended after almost pushing the two superpowers – the United States and the then Soviet Union – to the brink of nuclear war.
Kennedy had furthered US involvement in Southeast Asia while both the Cold War and the Space Race were heating up. He had asked Congress for millions to put a man on the moon before the 1960s ended to beat the Russians, who had their own program. That US accomplishment would happen when Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, but one that Kennedy wouldn’t get to witness.
It was JFK’s last Christmas. On November 22, 1963, the young president was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. He was 46.
But the photos, which are part of the archive at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, foretold nothing – just happy scenes of a family together.