Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Christmas Letter

Instead of following my plan yesterday, I spent the day working on the annual exercise in creative writing: the Christmas Epistle. It's an exercise because, like most exercising, the goal is to slim down. In this case, it's to fit the year onto one sheet of paper, printed on both sides, in a font that's big enough for over-40 eyes to read. I did finally come up with something that has been approved by everyone in the family except DS the Elder; he's not been home to see it yet. Assuming it's ok with him...and, if it made it by his sister, he shouldn't have any issues... I just need everyone's signatures and it's ready to replicate and send off.

But I have been reading 'round the boards, and there are some interesting topics pertaining to the holidays...what does your tree look like? How do you handle the stress? What traditions do you keep? Things like that.

It's a weeks worth of blogging material, easy! But since I'm still letter-oriented, I thought I'd post a bit about the much-maligned Christmas Letter.

I work pretty hard to make our letter chatty and informal and low-key (a lot like the blog, actually) and I do have folks tell me that they enjoy it, so I hope I'm on the right track. Like everyone else, I've gotten those letters that drip syrup right out of the envelope and those letters that get on the LAST nerve because NOBODY has a life that perfect and those letters that leave the reader with a little black cloud for the rest of the day because, well, how could anyone have so many disasters in one year, with not a single bright spot? But, overall, I like getting letters from people.

Because, despite the internet and email and blogs and cell phones, we don't communicate with people we love. And, to use a Southern term, that's just sad. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I regularly go MONTHS without speaking to any of my siblings (ETA: they are all a minimum of 400 miles away from us). Oh, there will be the occasional email, but even that is rare. And it's not that we don't get along (well, maybe we don't see eye-to-eye on all things and we do know how to push each other's buttons, but overall we're reasonable adults. Mostly. ;) ) Anyway, if I'm that poor about communicating to my blood kin, you can imagine how poorly I've been doing with friends. And I'm not going on a guilt trip; the phone/computer goes both ways...we're all just so focused on the day that the weeks and months get by without notice.

And before anyone knows it, it's December again and we haven't talked to anyone since the last Christmas Letter went out.

So basically I'm just grateful that the Christmas Letter tradition exists at all...one time a year when people stop and sit down and at least tell folks what the Big Deals in their lives have been in the past year. Because if it weren't for that Christmas letter, we'd lose touch completely with many of our friends. I can put up with the Awful letters-- they're really more a reflection of writing skills than superior attitudes, anyway--because they keep me in touch with folks that have somehow been a blessing to me or my family in the past.

And every year I make an Album. I put in a copy of our letter and every card, letter, photo, etc. that we receive in the holiday season. It's our record book of friends and family. And they do get looked at again. Sometimes not for a couple of years, but every once in a while I'll pull out an album (what year did they buy that house? Oh, here it is...) and enjoy the old greetings all over again. It's the only scrapbooking I do; and it's getting more difficult because the big,cheap scrapbooks I like to use have pretty much all been replaced by Memory Albums with acid-free paper and Sheet Protectors, which are useless for an album of cards and letters. I still haven't found a suitable book for this year's cards, but I'm looking!

So...is the Christmas Letter really as hated as its reputation implies? Or are there folks like me who are happy for news in whatever form it comes? Do you do a Letter? And...does it take a whole day (a day plus, actually; I made a good start on it Saturday night) to write it?

Or does the very idea of a Christmas Letter make you think 'Bah Humbug'? ;)


  1. I don't do a letter, although I enjoy the ones I get. I'm doing pretty good if I can get cards out to my family and friends!

  2. I need to write my Christmas letter too. I try to do one every year because sadly, the Christmas card is the only correspondence most of my relatives and friends get from me. My blog serves as a good record of what I did during the year so the letter won't take too long, but it still takes time. I usually struggle over how not to make it sound like I'm bragging about the travel we've done, but then we don't have kids to brag about. I enjoy receiving Christmas letters too, although every year I cringe in anticipation about what the in-laws will write in their letter about my husband and me.

    That's amazing that you make an album every year! My past Christmas letters are on the computer somewhere (maybe) and as for the ones we receive, they hang around on a table for long after Christmas and then I make the tough decision to toss them. I never know what to do about the pictures. I hate throwing away pictures.

  3. I know what you mean, Lori! It was the pictures that made me finally start the album process. *IF* I can keep up with the cards as they come in, it doesn't really take too long to get the cards in an album.

    Course, that kinda means I need the album before the cards start arriving...

  4. I do an album, too, but I have only our card and our letter for each year. It's a great way to remember what year we did a certain activity and so forth. I started the year DH and I got married.