I’ve been creating my own Christmas cards since 2000, each December choosing a different piece of my artwork for the cover image. Two years ago it was a painting of a Venice balcony (painted from the photo you see a portion of above), last year an abstract derived from a glass sculpture, and this year a view of Mt. Rainier (left). Then I print a newsy message on the inside. That’s what I’ve been working on for the past couple of days.
Composing the letter is more than a writing exercise. It’s an invitation to take stock of things, to review the events of the year just concluding, and look forward to what is to come. Any applicable major life events – marriages, deaths, births, graduations, changes of job or residence – figure prominently. But I try to add a few personal details for flavor, and a photo or two. Then I usually close with a reminder of what Christmas means to us (the reason for the season).
There have been moments when I almost regret beginning the tradition, only because it often feels like a lot of extra work at an already-busy time. Still, I’m convinced it’s effort well-spent. I hope our friends enjoy our missives as much as we do the ones we receive. In the long run, though, our own Christmas letters are probably most valuable to us, serving as a permanent record more reliable than my faulty memory. I only wish I had started chronicling our family history sooner.
“Was his letter a long one? Does he give you much account of what he is doing? Is it Christmas gaieties that he is staying for?” (Mansfield Park, chapter 29)
Update: See related post Oh What a Difference a Decade Makes – another reason I’m glad I took the time to write those Christmas letters!