• Posted on November 30, 2017 at 9:37 pm
Christmas Letter

Ready to make a start…

I have just completed my 2017 Christmas Letter, with photos, to be sent out with all my Christmas cards. Now over the years I have heard many groans, criticisms and downright rude comments about the ubiquitous annual note or letter which some people include in their Christmas cards. And after reading past letters from one or two acquaintances I can perhaps begin to understand why… but I have to add that they have been very few and far between.

I love receiving letters in my Christmas cards – even a few lines hastily written on the inside flap are gratefully appreciated. Nor do I carelessly rip open the envelopes and briefly scan the contents as they arrive through the post. As a family, we have a ‘post box’; a cardboard box covered in colourful Christmas paper which I made when my son was very little. But it has become a family tradition that whenever we receive our first cards (and this year my first Christmas card arrived through the post last week!) we get the ‘post box’ down from the loft and stand it in the hall. As our cards arrive, we all post them into our box, unopened. On Christmas Eve, as the daylight dies and the chilly darkness steals across the mountains, the family gather around the fire for afternoon tea. It is then that we open the post box and take it in turns to open and read aloud the cards, messages and letters that it contains. This way we all get to hear news of everyone and can discuss and share it.

All my life, letters have been enormously important to me. Since my childhood I have kept in close contact with numerous relatives and friends and have gained even more numerous dear and special friends around the globe (including ‘meeting’ my husband!) all through the medium of writing. I have always written long and copious numbers of letters ever since I first learned to write. Then it was with a pen and paper. Now with stiff and sore joints in my hands it tends to be electronically.

Why do people write letters – electronically or otherwise? Presumably because they wish to share some facets (or even all) that is happening in their lives. Do you like to write letters yourself?

Just as importantly, do you enjoy receiving letters?

Why should the letter one receives in a Christmas card be any different than a letter at any other time of the year?

Well, for one thing, the author of the letter is trying (in my case, not very successfully) to encapsulate a good few months – or even a whole year – of news into just a few paragraphs. From that perspective it can seem overwhelming. And admittedly, some people can use this as an opportunity to brag about their good fortune… all the foreign holidays that they have managed to squeeze into their busy lives, the numerous exams and qualifications which their golden and gifted children have achieved, the wonderful promotions that their spouses have been given in the working world. I love to hear how well my dear ones are doing, but if the writer isn’t careful, I suppose that it can sometimes come across as a bit too sickly sweet.

Then again, who wants to read a load of misery? Someone’s sickly sweetness might be masking other gruelling traumas, challenges and worries. Writing a positive letter might be one way of the sender realising and counting their blessings. They might also be doing it out of consideration for you, not wishing to weigh the recipient down with their woes.

As in all things in this life, I feel that it is a question of balance. It also depends on how well you know the person you are writing to. If you are quite close to them, give them your news, good and bad, but simultaneously try to write it in such a way that you manage to maintain a more upbeat note to your news, and at the very least, try to finish with something positive, funny, kind, loving or gentle. If it is to cherished loved ones, then simply write your messages as they are – tell it as it is – they will want to know and will understand. Obviously, if your card is only to an acquaintance, that depth of sharing will not be applicable, but you can still make what you write realistic and genuine.

After all, the round robin letter is only an extension of the card itself. So you next need to ask yourself why you are writing a card? Who exactly do you write your cards to? How do you write your cards?

I am a great believer in wholeheartedly wishing everyone the very best. I love writing my cards. I also believe that we communicate so much more than just words. Think, the card that you write has been held in your hands; you have touched it, written on it, pushed it in the envelope. It has a little bit of you attached to it. We all communicate with each other on many different levels in lots of varying ways, often without realising it. But if you purposely place your hands upon the card before or after you have written it, and spend just a few moments sending all your love and thoughts for a few seconds into the paper before you seal it up in its envelope, think how much stronger that subtle message will be when the person at the other end receives and opens it.

Perhaps this might be your true gift to them? Genuinely, consciously, purposely well-wishing all your loved ones. And yes, we all write cards to folk at Christmas whom we don’t know that well; courtesy cards to bosses or neighbours or colleagues. But they are only human beings, just like yourself, with challenges and disappointments and pain and struggles like all the rest of us. It doesn’t matter who they are; they all deserve a loving thought – why not?

Would it be asking too much of you to go even further and suggest that as you go about your daily life – at home, walking the dog, doing the shopping, having a drink in a bar – during this Midwinter celebration, that you warmly send out good thoughts and wishes to everyone you pass, and perhaps even smile at them? Such a positive, warm-hearted approach can make a huge difference in our hurly-burly, stressful 21st Century world; and surely, such a simple act encapsulates the very essence of the whole meaning and message of ‘Christmas’.

So write your cards with thought and love, compose those letters with care, and don’t forget… open your hearts to all… and smile.

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Keith Beasley
Keith Beasley

Here, Here! I too appreciate both the receiving of messages in Christmas Cards and the opportunity to offer a round-robin with my festive mailing. I do this as a web-link (so those who are not interested don’t have to look at it) from an e-card (so I’m not consuming too much wood-based product). Whether I’m writing or reading a festive message (or any communication, for that matter) my intent (if I’m ‘with it’ enough) is to be present with the receiver/sender, to bring them to mind, to send them love. Yes, it takes a bit longer than just signing your… Read more »