To get a jump on the Christmas season, I sat down a few weeks ago to write our Christmas letter.
It’s always harder than I think it will be.
Several years ago when I was writing reviews for a co-op blog, I found that when critiquing films, television, and books, it’s much easier to type what didn’t work, what you disliked regardless of whether said complaint was objective or subjective. This crosses over into all areas of life. Negative thoughts abound. Everything and everyone has flaws. Living day to day can be a surprisingly boring experience or, depending on your situation, damn near impossible to survive.
But with about 30 days to go before the end of the year and 335 days(ish) behind us, we often look back and wonder where the minutes, hours, and days went while we sit in front of a blank computer screen trying to sum up our lives into crisp, footed font (sorry not sorry Comic Sans) that fit into an 8×11 piece of paper.
Because our lives are so much more complicated and intricate and dull than we’d care to admit to those we love enough to give missives. On the one hand, those who show us affection probably won’t stop being supportive through one card, but we still feel the need to impress. We may not be the greatest American heroes, but we need to feel proud of our life. This is the only one we get. A letter is a little more than a social media message or a text. Something about putting in enough effort to buy a stamp just says I care a little more. By the way, the stamp is an item I will forget to buy as often as Kevin’s parents forget him on trips in Home Alone–way too frequently.
Then there’s the nuclear family that is sending the card out. Not many people send cards these days, or if they do, it’s the one picture, one sentence yearly statement which contains its own sets of problems I won’t address here since I’m not the one who sends them. We have to come to a consensus of what we spent our year doing and how we’d like to convey that to everyone else. Or specifically, what lies or spin would we like to put on it?
So here we are.
My mom used to be really great at penning and sending off Christmas cards. She has a great memory, used to enroll me in all kinds of yearly activities, and managed to save enough for us to take a trip somewhere every year. As a child, I was far more active and worldly than I am now for a number of reasons, but I always find myself longing for the same kind of excitement and pizzazz that she used to throw into our annual announcements.
More than anything, the reason I continue to send out our cards each year is to let our closest friends and family know that even though we aren’t as active and lucrative as we’d like to be, that we’re still here thinking of them year round.
The other is what my husband’s sister told me when we went to her house last night–that every year she saves our Christmas cards and keeps them in a file called “letters.” “If you ever wonder what you were doing a certain year, just let me know, and I bet I could find it,” she said. That tradition and time capsule is one that warms my heart and makes me feel a little better when things get tough or when life comes between what your life is and what you would like it to be. This is something worth remembering, especially during this festive and spiritual season.