Everyone’s received the infamous and truthfully, often dreaded yearly Christmas letter. Dreaded? Face it. You don’t want to hear about how cousin Bill is doing in school and how he’s still the star quarterback on the football team (Aunt Marge never confesses that her little Billy has taken tenth grade over five times) and yes, he’s also dating the current head cheerleader. And – you don’t want to hear – again – about how every other person on the planet is doing great while you’ve been unemployed for another year, your dog ate your carpet, your roof leaks, Joey Jr. was arrested for stealing a package of Nerts from the corner gas station, little Suzy needs braces and your spouse spends his or her spare time on the couch.
So, what do you do? What is there to write about? While you want to be honest, people can’t take a depressed-sounding greeting that exposes every little detail of your humdrum life. So put your rose-colored glasses on and see the humor in some of what life dealt you this past year. Not only will it be more enjoyable to read, but you will probably get a positive response from someone you haven’t heard from for a while. Also, you might be cheered up as well from looking at circumstances from a slightly different angle.
How about a poem? One year I wrote a poem of key events/highlights of our family’s last year to the ‘tune’ of The Night Before Christmas poem. It was a hit and using that method kept it fairly short (a good thing to keep in mind).
Another way to keep it brief is to write your Christmas letter chronologically and hit the high points of family life, month by month. If you keep ‘history’ jotted down on the calendar, use it to write your letter. For example, “in the month of June, Ariel accept Dan’s proposal of marriage and the date was set for December. In July, Katie came home for a short visit from jail… (you can explain whether this was ‘leave’ or a week off from ‘wardening’) .” You get the idea.
Of course, there’s the old stand-by of going through every person in the family and writing a little blurb on each one. But why be like everyone else? Why not add some spice and write a little blurb making it a mystery? Make your reader have to guess who you’re talking about? Make it multiple choice with answers on the back and give your fans, friends, and family a workout.
Have the whole family contribute by writing a few sentences answering the question, What was your favorite part/thing about this past year? Compile them all and send it off with greetings and blessings for a Merry Christmas and your readership will thank you for going out on a limb and being different. Trust me on this.
And, whatever you do, if at all possible, include a family photo because honestly this is the best part of the whole letter. Hands down!