Monday, December 17, 2012

Check out this Creative Christmas Newsletter!

I love this time of the year because I start getting fun holiday letters in my mailbox that aren't just ads or bills! You know, before the internet became so widespread, it used to be that people communicated with letters a lot more. I remember that when I was living away from home and attending college, checking the mailbox was just about the most important time of the day! It was so great to hear news from home when I was far away. Those were the days! Now it seems that just about everything comes via email, which is wonderful and I love technology, but I do miss those old days of getting letters from friends and family. So, when November and December start rolling around, I look with anticipation to my mailbox!

From the first year that my husband and I were married, I carefully crafted a Christmas greeting to our friends and families and sent it out each year. Always included was a great photo of our growing family, as well as news about the major happenings of each year. I played around with the lyrics to Christmas songs and made clever little stories about our kids and funny things that happened throughout the year. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed this tradition.

I even created a scrapbook album and filled it with each year's Christmas letters as part of our family's history. I did this faithfully every year from 1992 to 2007. But then one year the tradition just kind of got lost, and we haven't sent out Christmas cards ever since. Why?

There were a lot of reasons why we stopped - I had started to have some major health issues that made it very difficult to get things done, we moved to California for a job opportunity and were still pretty overwhelmed with all the changes, I received a very busy assignment in my church, and most influential of all - Facebook came into our lives! Seriously, with nearly constant updates via the internet from family and friends, I didn't see the need anymore for taking all the time to write up, print, stuff, address, and mail the old-fashioned Christmas letters.

You know, it made so much sense to me then, and it never really bothered me until just now as I've been writing about it. We haven't sent out a Christmas letter for 4 years now, but a few wonderful friends continue to send me their letters faithfully, every year, despite my lack of sending them one! What kind of friend am I anyway? I need to repent and reform! It's time to bring back a great tradition that has almost gotten lost in our busy technology-filled world - the Ward Family Christmas Newsletter!

Anyway, all this chatty history is leading to a point, believe it or not. A few days ago I received a really fun and creative Christmas letter from a friend of mine, so I asked her permission to share it on my blog. This friend is amazingly creative, and she really outdid herself this year. I immediately fell in love with the idea of making the annual Christmas newsletter into a fun little game or puzzle instead of just a big long newsletter of "TMI" details, haha! Click on the image to get a close-up view and you will see that this fun little picture is actually a dot-to-dot game where you have to connect each family member with what they have been doing in 2012! Is that cute or what??

I hope this inspires you to get creative with your own annual Christmas letters. Or if you've never done one before, maybe you can give it a try this year. Be creative about your news and have fun with it! Look at this one for inspiration - and in case you can't figure it out, if you start connecting the dots from each person to the "news" about them, you end up with a Christmas star! And the "answer" is on the back for those who are a little slower to figure it all out, haha. Isn't that great?
Click on the image to see it close-up. . . 
(I have crossed out the names on the letter to protect identities
and show respect for this family's news.)
After seeing this, I thought to myself, wow, there's really no excuse to not send out a Christmas letter with just a bit of news on it, is there? And it inspired me to consider starting up this tradition again. Christmas is still a week away, so there's plenty of time, right? Okay maybe not! But who says a Christmas newsletter needs to be sent out by Christmas anyway? We may just send out a New Year's letter, or . . . I could follow the example of another friend who, one year, sent out "Valentine's Day" letters because her Christmas letters were so late! Hahaha, she was certainly brave. But I'll tell you, I got more out of her letter than some of the others because it came all by itself instead of in a pile with several others. So maybe she was on to something. . .

So, now that I've revived the idea in my head and my heart, I am realizing the incredible lasting value to these annual letters and know that it is worth my time to write one up and get it in the mail. It makes me somewhat sad that there are 4 years with virtually "no history" in my scrapbook. Maybe I'll have to make a little page of each missing year and give a few highlights. . . uh oh, I feel myself turning this into way too big of a project! So, I will contain my excitement and stick to the main goal - write a letter for *this* year!

If you decide to start an annual Christmas newsletter, don't stress about it too much, just be creative and have fun! Or wait until next year if it's too overwhelming. It's okay to not be perfect! That's an important lesson that I've learned in my life. Choose what is valuable to you, do your best at it, and let everything else go. It's okay - it's not worth it to sweat the small stuff.

My Christmas letter probably won't even get written until Christmas is over, but I am going to do it because I realize that is important. Hold me to it!! What a great gift to give to friends, especially in a day when actual "letters" are so rare. A piece of mail that is not a bill or an ad is a valuable treat to receive in the mail.

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