I should have guessed if you Google “Christmas letter” you will find a plethora of websites geared to help you make the dreaded newsletter an epistle of beauty, if not wit. If not hokey. If not ridiculous.
One helpful site offers seriously cheesy templates where you just supply a name in the blanks, a few highlights from the year and presto, the deed is done. Aren’t you clever?
Another suggests you let the dog write the letter. Or the house. Yep, the house writes the letter. Or the 6-month old baby. Or the cookie jar in kitchen.
You can also write it by numbers. I actually like this one. And I’m not sure why. Math was never my thing. You recap the highlights in numbers. Like this:
- 4900 miles – three cars across six states
- 11,000 pounds of household goods the movers packed up
- 3 – the number of times the movers’ truck broke down enroute
- 220 – the number of bucks it takes to send a drooling Labrador from St. Paul to San Diego on an airplane
- 150 – the number of bucks it takes to send the cat
- 88 ½ -the number of headaches weathered while waiting for a MN house to sell
- one-eighth – the value of MN house compared to the CA house
Wait a minute. That is definitely NOT a Christmas letter. What is a Christmas letter anyway? What do I really want to know about the people I care enough to contact once a year, but only once a year? What do they want to know about me? Do they really want to know what a pain in the neck moving is? Will that make them think happy holiday thoughts?
Doubtful. I think what they want to know is am I still me. Am I still the person they knew when we lived close by and they didn’t need a letter every 365 days to know what life had brought me, taught me, wrought in me. They don’t want a “Here’s everything that’s wonderful about me!” letter. They want to know if I am still who they think I am.
Here’s a great “Keep this in mind” list when writing your letter. I got it here and have edited it for space but not for humor.
- Don’t brag
- Keep it short
- Keep it readable
- Don’t brag
- Keep it light
- Keep letters free of jargon related to specific careers
- Don’t brag
- Don’t try to get a whole year into a page
- Don’t use your letter as a catalog for a home-based business.
- All right, you can brag once, but follow it with something that proves you don’t think you’re better than everyone else.
And now, a completely shameless plug for a lovely book by a fantastic writer who shares my first name, blonde locks, love for Italian food, and until recently, the state where I live. Susan May Warren calls Minnesota home -I used to, but you already know that. She’s got a terrific sequel to her Josey books.
Here’s the teaser: “Russia? Not again. Josey’s finally living the good life – she’s got the man, the (almost-perfect) wedding, the two-story Cape-Cod house of her dreams. That is until her man drags her back to Moscow! Josey knows she has the guts to follow her own dreams across the world, but she’s not so sure she can play the perfect wife while her husband chases after his. Josey’s set on having the perfect life…even in a world without hot water, decent take-out and size-two leather fashion. But can she find the courage to tell her man the secret that will change their lives forever?”
Susie knows her stuff. She lived in Russia for several years and this chick knows how to tell a story. Gotta love that baby bottle in the nesting doll on the cover. I think I know what the big secret is. . .
Off to write the Christmas letter that doth not brag.