In a world where Facebook gives hourly update status on nearly everyone we know, I fear that the Christmas card–especially the Christmas “family update letter”— might be a dying tradition. But I hope not. Beginning December 1st, I run to the mailbox anxious to see photos and read messages from family and friends.
But you have to give to get. So last weekend, I selected our Christmas card photo and wrote our 2012 “family update letter.” This is always an interesting challenge. How to write a message that tells a far-away aunt (who does not get on Facebook) or a friend (who you haven’t seen in 15 years) a little bit about your family without boring them to death or sounding like a conceited mother hen? For many years, my answer to this has been to consider the card itself a gift. Instead of writing about the soccer trophy and the school play and the A’s, I try to give my family and friends something that might contribute a bit to their lives and share a little bit about my family in the process. Here is what I mean.
- Favorite Things One year our card included a list of our family’s favorite books, restaurants, and songs to sing out loud in the card. The book choices reflected the ages and interests of the girls, the restaurants included locations “with the kids” and “without the kids,” and the songs told something silly about our family road trip.
- Dinner Discussion Topics Another year I wrote about how our baby had decided she no longer would sit in her highchair. This resulted in our family having to find new seats at the dinner table. This little story was accompanied by dinner discussion topics from one of my favorite purchases that year, Food for Talk by Julienne Smith. The story told something about our family and the dinner topics gave our friends a little activity they could try if they wanted.
- Family Games One year, my best family book purchase was Fun on the Run by Cynthia Copeland. It is a tiny book of 324 games to play while waiting in lines or at a doctor’s appointment or for a train. In our Christmas card, I shared a few of the best game and ideas and told where we were and what we were doing when we played those games that year. Lots of people told me they kept that Christmas letter in their purse just in case they needed it.
- Favorite Websites Once, each member of the family shared a favorite website in our Christmas letter. My husband chose “accuweather.com” because he checked it each morning before a bike ride. My daughter chose “rottentomatoes.com” because she is such a movie critic. I chose “organizedhome.com ” not because I have one, just because I like to read about others who do. My thought was that the websites might give family and friends something new to check out and the reasons we chose them would tell something about our family.
- Recipes Another year, I shared some recipes that our family liked. “Peanut Butter Pancakes” were what helped get the girls out of bed on time for 9:00 church, “Banana Smoothies” were a favorite after school snack, “Chicken Curry” was a recipe that actually got our baby to stay still and eat the food on her plate. It was more work that I planned cutting out all the recipe cards, but fun to share.
- Favorite Quotes Once, each family member selected their favorite quote. We copied each quote on card stock and sprinkled them in with our card. One daughter used a quote from her then favorite movie, Princess Protection Program. Another quoted Harry Potter. I used this one: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” I said something (in tiny letters at the bottom) about being almost 40 and still after the habit. My dad’s secretary got a copy of our card and kept our quotes taped to her desk for a year!
More Christmas Card Ideas
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- Shutterfly has great templates to write a quick “Year in Review” or other “story cards” for your family.
- A friend once sent us a card “by the numbers”: number of laundry loads that year, number of trips to the orthodontist that year, number of dinners prepared that year. Loved it.
- Another year I received a card from a friend who had each of her young children tell the Christmas story in their own words. Awesome.
I will not lie. Doing Christmas cards like this a lot of work. But it’s fun too. The work you put into it can be evidence of love for the recipient. For us, it has been a fun way to share our family story.
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