Monday, December 13, 2010

The Annual Letter

Yes, you know what I mean, don't you?

The annual Christmas letter. This is a tradition that I maintain, and that my husband...perhaps is less enthusiastic about. My contention is that it helps me keep up, ever so briefly admittedly, with family and friends--particularly those who are far away.

And then came blogging--and Facebook. Is it still necessary to keep up with far-away folk? I contend it is, and here's why.

For me.

That's right--you read correctly. The annual Christmas letter has become a kind of year in miniature about our family life. Oh, true, I try not to tell embarrassing things. And I omit those objectionable photos. But, each year I have written a one page letter, and now with computer technology, I can sometimes include a photo or two. I have these letters, still saved on my computer (I even went back in years and imported old letters!), going back to the early 1990s. So, I have almost 20 years of letters.

I can read through these letters and see snippets--my thoughts on our children's graduations from school, my grief on my mother's death, celebrations of marriages of our children, sadness on having pets die, joy at bringing new pets into our lives, fun times with friends, and other passages--retirements, Penn State victories. And on and on the list goes.

I do not keep a daily diary. I am just not disciplined enough to do that. Admittedly, now with blogging, I can also go back and read of some of these same events. But the Christmas letter is our lives for a year written in miniature.

So, I will keep the annual tradition. I will try to be sparing--not just the length of what I write (a page limit helps), but also of not sharing too much. But I will write.

And I will look forward to reading those Christmas letters we receive and that I read. Hearing about your lives in miniature too.

And now, the informal poll--Christmas letter:
yes? or no?
Candy cane stationery available at
I can't help myself--GRRRR--stationEry when it is a letter. Of course, maybe they mean that the North Pole isn't moving, as in stationAry. But with global warming, it might ...


Anvilcloud said...

Not this year for me. Maybe every second year would do.

Ginger said...

A definite yes from me! I have done Christmas letters since the mid-1980s, when I was just out of college. They've gone from one-pagers to very wordy with small type, to a 4-page newsletter with lots of photos ever since I got married. People SAY they look forward to them. :) I certainly enjoy the review, and like you, keep them in a file to enjoy again from time to time.

Wanda said...

Yes, and for many of the reasons you mention. I always put it off for as long as possible but have such a sense of accomplishment when I finish. I try to keep ours to 2 pages (front/back of a single page) and include a paper-borne gift (a tried-and-true recipe, perhaps a craft idea). It just seems a waste of a postage stamp to send a card without including a letter too and I'm definitely not crazy enough to write individual letters!

Murr Brewster said...

Either I have never received one of those obnoxious Christmas letters, or I'm just naturally more tolerant (naah--that can't be it), but I love them. I don't know why they're so unpopular. They usually feature the exploits of grown children I distinctly recall having drooled on my shoulder a couple years ago. You MUST put the letter out there. Plus, it's good for the USPS. I send out a hundred cards a year, the internet be damned. But I don't, myself, put in a letter--people have heard enough from me.

KGMom said...

AC--I know, I know--you are too busy tidying up old photos...

Ginger--neat idea to include a recipe or something similar.

Wanda--welcome. I checked your profile--do you write your own blog?

Murr--I might know you would put in a plug for the USPS. Atta girl. And, we can NEVER hear enough from you!

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Both my son and my sister send out Christmas letters. I just hide from everyone. Their letters are just a reminder of how un interesting my life is. Could they be rubbing it in? In any case, I have little to say.

Jayne said...

I've never written a Christmas letter in my life. Guess there is just not enough going on in my world in a year to fill a page? :c) But I do usually send out cards.

NCmountainwoman said...

While I've never written a Christmas letter, I just love receiving them. Some because they give a family update and are quite interesting; and some because they are so filled with how everyone in the family is so successful with perfect lives and perfect children they make me laugh.

Nance said...

In the nineties, when the kids were teens and in college, I wrote humor letters--as opposed to the All Joy, All The Time type I'd get from the friends who had been taken over by alien robots.

I loved writing them and people laughed at life's whimsies as depicted by our foursome. The inevitable painful parts are harder to share, and those came in the 2000-2010 decade. So I discontinued the letters.

Please post yours, if you're so inclined, and we'll enjoy them!

Ruth said...

I remember helping with mimeographed newsletters for my missionary parents for years. But writing an yearly newsletter myself has never been appealing. I sure yours is well written!

LauraHinNJ said...

Haha... not sure how I missed this post, but it answers my question about you!

I've never written one, but do love to receive them from family and friends.