My writing career began with the humble Christmas letter. Or, not so humble, as is the tradition. For years I chronicled the noteworthy events of our family at the holidays. I’m not handy with decorative netting, I can’t coordinate bulbs and baubles, and choosing gifts gives me hives. But writing the annual Christmas letter helped me feel the spirit of the season.
Writing those Christmas letters was my first writing practice. I was consistent, if not prolific. I wrote through marital bliss and amiss, through frightening fevers and countless diaper changes. I wrote through my new home, across the country from everything I knew, in a canyon. I lived in a canyon. I wrote through everything that just kept changing.
When I started, I had no idea writing would become a habit, an obsession, that I would go on to publish three books. You could say I was finding my voice.
Or you could say I was bragging.
They were Christmas letters, after all.
At least I made my annual updates entertaining. People RAVED about my Christmas letters. I’m not saying they were good, but we’ve all seen the resumes, the stale timelines, the over-sharing of fortunes, good and bad. The bar is pretty low for Christmas letters.
My first Christmas letter was from the point of view of my son, who was four months old his first Christmas. He had a good line about the car seat that year.
One year I wrote from the point of view of our Italian Greyhound, who was much more sophisticated than the rest of our family.
Last year, our beloved retriever mutt complained that we didn’t take her snorkeling. But that was just a line on the back of one of those photo cards. I let go of my Christmas letters. I’m not alone.
Something happened around ten years ago.
We all swarmed onto the social scene and upped our bragging frequency. We no longer needed the annual catch up. Most of us have forsaken the Christmas letter. Instead, we inflict and suffer the humble brag all day, every day.
But the Christmas letter is more than just a casual update. It’s a way to reflect on the year, spread joy to your friends and family, and just play with word and memories.
I miss the Christmas letter. So I’m bringing it back.
Maybe this year I’ll write from the POV of the tree.