Everyone’s received the infamous and truthfully, often dreaded yearly Christmas letter. Dreaded? Face it. You don’t want to hear about how cousin Bill is doing in school and how he’s still the star quarterback on the football team (Aunt Marge never confesses that her little Billy has taken tenth grade over five times) and yes, he’s also dating the current head cheerleader. And – you don’t want to hear – again – about how every other person on the planet is doing great while you’ve been unemployed for another year, your dog ate your carpet, your roof leaks, Joey Jr. was arrested for stealing a package of Nerts from the corner gas station, little Suzy needs braces and your spouse spends his or her spare time on the couch.
So, what do you do? What is there to write about? While you want to be honest, people can’t take a depressed-sounding greeting that exposes every little detail of your humdrum life. So put your rose-colored glasses on and see the humor in some of what life dealt you this past year. Not only will it be more enjoyable to read, but you will probably get a positive response from someone you haven’t heard from for a while. Also, you might be cheered up as well from looking at circumstances from a slightly different angle.
How about a poem? One year I wrote a poem of key events/highlights of our family’s last year to the ‘tune’ of The Night Before Christmas poem. It was a hit and using that method kept it fairly short (a good thing to keep in mind).
Another way to keep it brief is to write your Christmas letter chronologically and hit the high points of family life, month by month. If you keep ‘history’ jotted down on the calendar, use it to write your letter. For example, “in the month of June, Ariel acceptted Dan’s proposal of marriage but then ran off with Steve in July. In August, Katie came home from her visit to the local jail and grandma had a successful hemmoroid surgery.” You get the idea.
Of course, there’s the old stand-by of going through every person in the family and writing a little blurb on each one. But why be like everyone else? Why not add some spice and write a little blurb making it a mystery? Make your reader have to guess who you’re talking about. Make it multiple choice with answers on the back and give your fans, friends, and family a workout.
Have the whole family contribute by writing a few sentences answering the question, What was your favorite part/thing about this past year? Compile them all and send it off with greetings and blessings for a Merry Christmas and your readership will thank you for going out on a limb and being different. Trust me on this.
And, whatever you do, if at all possible, include a family photo because honestly this is the best part of the whole letter. Hands down!
Horror is relative. It can mean you're scared out of your mind, or it can mean the remembrance of a mishap you'd just as soon forget.
I'd define the following three incidences as horrific…
Everyone says your mind begins to go after the age of 40. I can testify to that fact. However, before I turned forty and entertained my own misadventure of 're-gifting', I found myself quite disappointed when it happened to me.
I had given a family member what I had considered, a very nice desk set. It was from Hallmark, illustrated by Marjorie Bostien. Beautiful spring scenes enveloped a matching set of pen, note pad, address book and something else that I can't remember. Two years after giving it to this family member, guess what I got for Christmas? My daughter, who was with me when I purchased it and remembered what I had given this person, was, shall we say, 'horrified'. Her mouth dropped open and I tried to signal to her that it was okay. I re-gifted it to Goodwill. I didn't want the reminder, but as you can see, I still remember.
The next story comes at Christmas as well. I had given a family member a cute little 'designer' (Debbie Mumm) set of holiday ware. Guess what I got for Christmas the next year? My daughter's jaw dropped again and I made another trip to Goodwill.
A few years later, it was my turn to re-gift. We were short on money, so I spent the summer thrift shopping and going to garage sales. In fact, we even had a yard sale of our own that summerand a couple of friends cleaned out their closets and donated their items to my cause of raising money for Christmas gifts. Imagine my ecstatic surprise when one friend donated a brand new sleeping bag of high quality, mind you, in its original box with a smidgen of wrapping paper stuck to the side.
It was an answer to prayer. After the yard sale and before Christmas, I took out that box, tore off the previous paper and rewrapped it, so proud that I had been given such a find.
Before we knew it, Christmas day had arrived and everyone waited as the gifts were passed out. I was anxious for my son to rip open that box and see that he got what he really wanted. I asked him to save it for last. He complied and as everyone watched, he unwrapped the box.
“Awesome!” he announced for all to hear. “It was the one I wanted, too!”
He opened the end to pull out the bag and what did he find? It was filled with pieces of scrap fabric. I had never checked inside the box before wrapping it up.
“Oh, it's a do-it yourself sleeping bag,” someone said.
“Don't tell me you bought this from someone at a yard sale and never checked it,” my son said.
You can guess what I was out shopping for the day after Christmas and it wasn't a sale on wrapping paper.
Recently in a large French city a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said:
DO YOU WANT TO BE A MERMAID OR A WHALE?
A middle aged woman whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.
To Whom It May Concern:
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans). They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.
Mermaids don't exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. They don't have a sex life beause they kill men who get close to them not to mention how could they have sex? Therefore they don't have kids either. Not to mention who wants to get close to a girl who's skin is all scaly and smells like a fish store?
The choice is perfectly clear to me… I want to be a whale.
Clara loves to pretend. Yesterday we were pretending “God and Elijah”.
“Grammy, I'm God and you're Elijah.”
“Uh huh,” I said half-heartedly, trying to photograph a hummingbird, all the while wondering why she gets to be God. She always gets to be God or the mom. I never get to be the important person. It's not fair…
Anyhow, after I threw a tantrum and while I was hunting hummingbirds, she was playing God and making it rain with the shower setting on the hose nozzle.
“Look Grammy, God is making it rain.”
“Yea, that's cool.”
“You're supposed to say 'Praise the Lord' when God makes it rain.”
“Oh,” I replied. “Sorry. Elijah wasn't aware of that. Praise The Lord.”
“Not yet Grammy. It stopped raining.”
Where is that hummingbird?!
I glanced over at a six-pack of strawberries we had leftover from planting and saw they were wilted.
“Clara,” I asked, “would you take the hose over by the porch and water those strawberries, please?”
“Sure I can, Grammy,” she answered cheerfully. I love when she does that.
When she was done, she took the hose back over to where she – er, I mean 'God' – was making it rain. She pushed the handle of the sprayer down and continued playing with the water, all the while informing me in regards to asking her to water the strawberries:
“Grammy, you've got to remember that God's in charge and Elijah shouldn't tell God what to do.”
You're right Boo – you're right.
We walked a few blocks to get there and upon arriving, the fire department was summoned for an emergency. Off they went, leaving 20+ preschoolers, parents, and teachers (and a couple Grammies, too) on the grass outside the firehouse to play Red Light, Green Light, hoping they wouldn’t be gone long.
We were escorted into the firehouse where the captain (I believe) questioned the children on knowing about 911, emergencies and reasons to call the fire department, etc. He then demonstrated the stop, drop, and roll technique with one of the students.
Then he showed the children a fire alarm and asked them if they knew what it was. Clara spoke up and said it was a ‘fire alarmer’. Praised for the right answer, the captain told them the alarm detects smoke where there might be a fire. He then asked if anyone had ever heard a smoke alarm go off for a fire and that is when one innocent child proudly stated,
“Our smoke alarm goes off when mommy and daddy are cuddling.”
And that was that.
The fire crew was called out again.
We walked back to the preschool in the rain, which the kids LOVED, and ten minutes later, the fire truck showed up at the school (and the firemen) so the kids could see it. Their favorite part came towards the end of the fire truck ‘demonstration’, when one of the fireman opened a valve near the bottom to release water underneath the truck.
“The firetruck’s going potty,” he told the kids. He ended up having to show them how the firetruck goes potty three more times.
They say kids say the darnedest things. So do firemen.
Writing for His glory –