Normally, I’d have the Christmas cards in the mail by now, but I’m running behind this year. One thing I’m struggling with is the Christmas letter. I started writing one when the kids were little. All of the relatives want to hear the news and I’m not a big fan of getting on the phone.
Growing up, ‘Christmas letter’ was like a bad phrase to me. Our family only received one card with a letter, and my mom and I made fun of that letter dreadfully, dubbing the child of that family “Wonder Child”. She could play every instrument handed to her with perfection, got grades which were so high no scale could record them, etc. To me, it was just a way to over-the-top brag about your kids.
Fast forward to my turn to write one of these ‘brag’ epistles. I didn’t want it to be a glorification of my children. We have our struggles just like everyone else.
Apparently the letter is well received. My mom complained a couple years ago that she didn’t get a copy but always heard about it. I told her that it’s just a recap of the year and she’s the one person I do call, so she already knows everything that I write about. Never the less, I took the hint and gave her photocopies of every letter I had saved a copy of for myself.
I try to write the letter for myself as much as for family. Early on, I read in a magazine that you should keep a copy of the letter for yourself as it’s a snapshot of your family’s history. I don’t have the first two or three letters that were written, but I have the rest and I do pull them out to read now and then.
What types of things do I include?
My son’s kindergarten year when he’d try to go to school with his pjs on under his clothing, making him look like the Michelin tire man. He did not know how he always got caught.
The family vacation when our children agreed that their favorite moment (and we did a lot of great stuff) was when they got to see a horse poop. (They were not happy when they found out about the letters in recent years and read through them to find this item.)
My kids calling an area on our walk home from school “Bacon Valley” because of the catalpa beans all over the quite flat sidewalk.
Making a paper chain.
Of course I talk about awards and honors too. I just make sure I’m not making the kids out to be angels of perfection.
I guess part of my struggle this year is that I always talk about our family vacation, and when our oldest was getting ready for college this past spring a family member took offense to DH setting up a Go-Fund-Me. He thought we could “well afford” college. His kids didn’t go. He didn’t know that a public university in our state runs $25,000 a year, rough numbers.
He also doesn’t know that while we have some awesome vacations, we do a lot of things that allow us to be able to afford them. The Christmas letter doesn’t talk about the food and drink we haul with us to cut down on eating out and buying snacks along the way. We all have fabric slings for water bottles, and I have a stash of Kool Aid singles. This takes the place of buying pop or other beverages through the day. There’s more, but you get the point. The economies that allow us to have great vacations as a family aren’t in the letter. Nor is there room. Nor would anyone want to hear them year after year.
DH didn’t have family vacations growing up because his parents owned a business. They worked all the time. This is important to him because he didn’t have it, and it’s important to me because I did have family trips.
I’m not letting this family’s member opinion stop me from telling our news, because the trip is always a highlight for us. We have built so many great memories through the years and we now we have a college student. We may not have another trip with all five of us. The times they are a-changin’.
So I will keep writing the letters for me and share the news with family along the ride. After all, Wonder Child surely gave her parents a lot of joy to bring them to write such glowing reports.