The Christmas Letter, a Dying Art

The Christmas season is upon us and we are all frantically making preparations for the big day. There are gifts to buy and menus to plan, people to see. There is one tradition I hold on to. It is the Christmas Letter.

Now I know in the busyness of Christmas these have often gone by the wayside. They are time consuming and the postage is expensive but I so love to receive a letter so I think others do too. Years ago I used to hand write my letters. I didn’t have as many friends. As my children came along my time was taken up in other ways so it became harder. It was still part of Christmas preparation though.

By the time my third child came along it was downright onerous but I still could not give it up. It was too important. Thus was born the form letter. Now I know that makes some of you cringe but it was necessary. I refused to send a card without some information on the family. It was often the one time a year I touched base with old friends and extended family.  It became my job to make it an interesting letter worth reading. Beside it just made more sense to send one good letter than a few notes that repeated themselves over and over.

My letters evolved to include pictures that the kids drew, signatures and pictures taken through the year. I developed a bit of a template that I follow. Each child gets a featured paragraph of activities and accomplishments, family events and holidays are highlighted and other news is shared. I try to keep it around two pages. I don’t want to bore anyone. My friends liked the letters so well they started doing their own. Over the years we all still anxiously await the yearly update from everyone. And my kids loved seeing the mail come in.

To save costs I buy cards on Boxing Day sales. Pictures are now printed on the letters with the ease of the computer. I used to photocopy in the old days. And now that my children are grown and moved away they still get a paragraph about their yearly exploits. And there has been one very great spin off that I didn’t figure on when I started. I now have three decades of family history nicely paraphrased in the letters. I have kept every one and hope to publish a family history for the kids. I would never remember all we have done but I have a handy reference.

So for all my young friends it may be a tradition worth starting. I know it will take an evening of your time but down the years it will be so worth it. Your time is your most precious gift and in these tough economic times it is something we all have to share.  And I am sure there is an old Aunt somewhere that would love to hear from you this Christmas. Enjoy.img_2165

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