I still remember the disappointment I felt in December 1991 when Dan told me I would have to do a Christmas letter instead of sending individual Christmas cards. I was used to spending time choosing just the right card, then hand-writing a note in most of the 70 cards we sent out. I didn’t really intend to write a note in each one, but as I addressed each envelope I would remember something special we had done with that person or that they had done for us, and I just couldn’t help but jot them a little note. Believe me, I tried to shorten the list of handwritten notes, but each year I found myself compelled to write in “just one more card.” We only send cards to people we don’t see on a regular basis, since the ones we see often we can personally wish Merry Christmas, so this too pressed me to make the extra effort to write my beloved notes.
But Dan was right. With three children under 5, and Eric a preemie needing extra care, I just didn’t have time to hand-write 70 cards. But a bunch of copied letters seemed so – so – impersonal.
It was with great doubts that I sat down to type that first Christmas letter. What could I possibly say that would be meaningful to our family and friends, and not seem like mass production?
It’s taken some time, but now I find myself actually looking forward to writing our Christmas letter. I’ve even managed to find some advantages to writing a letter verses individual cards.
• I’ve kept a copy of each of our Christmas letters. This has become sort of a “family history” since we include much of what has happened during the year. I just read through a few of them this year and spent some time reminiscing. This year I’ve decided to slip them into the sleeves of a photo album to put on the coffee table during the holidays so we can all enjoy the memories.
• We’ve had our children sign the original, so we have a sample of their handwriting from each year.
• We’ve also had fun finding ways to have each of our pets sign them. Our parakeet tracks are so cute! I’m not sure how the snake will sign it this year.
• It’s fun to see the different ways we’ve done them. Some are more elaborate, others quite simple.
• We do it as a family – so we talk about the different people we send to. Even small children can affix address labels and stamps. Our children have gotten to “know” some of these family members and friends that we don’t see very often, as we discuss them while we fold, stuff envelopes, and address our letters. We often stop to pray for families that are struggling.
• We also brainstorm as a family for ideas to put into our letter. Once again it provides an opportunity to remember the fun we’ve had and the Lord’s provision during the past year.
So, as I sat down to write this year’s letter, I fondly remembered my cards, but… my heart is now in our Christmas letters. Although, I must confess, I still find myself jotting a little note here and there. I guess some habits are just too hard to break.
Finding Joy in the Journey,
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