Send a Year In Review Letter with the Holiday Cards
23 Dec 2011
Sending a “Year in Review” letter with your holiday/Christmas cards is a great way to let your extended family and friends know what is going on in your family’s life. But if you are going to write one, there are some do’s and don’ts you need to consider. My wife has written our Year-in-Review letter for the last 15 years. I help with the design (borders and pictures), proofreading and offer thoughts on how my family may interpret some of the information (sometimes they miss the intended message…then again, I over-analyze …well actually I…oh never-mind). She was an English minor in college and has been influenced by the large volume of books she has read (and re-read.. David Sedaris) over the years. Lorraine is a fantastic writer with a hilarious sense of humor. Hopefully she’ll write that book I keep asking for so that she can get a fat publishing deal and I can retire early but that is another post I should write..anyway… If you can find the time between Christmas shopping, attending the company holiday soiree, and decorating your house, then you will find that writing (or at least helping to prepare) one of these letters can be a lot of fun and a good time to reflect back on the year.
If you are still reading…great! I am guessing you’re considering a letter. If so, your first question might be what do you write about? Well, it is really not too difficult. Think about the major events in each of your family members’ year. Maybe you drove the family 10 hours to visit relatives for week or your baby finally took those first steps. Once you have a few ideas, you’ll find they easily flow out onto the page.
But (and this is a really BIG but), please do not brag. No one with the exception of your mother (a.k.a Grandma) will like it. In fact, most will be turned off by it. Yes, we all know your children are like precious snowflakes, so special and unlike any other on the planet. However, no one wants to read your ramblings on how your young are showing signs of artistic genius …influenced by the Piccaso exhibit you visited, or how she fits charity work between her ballet classes and weekly piano lessons…especially if said snowflake is a toddler. Piccaso…really? And, don’t brag about that huge company bonus or brand new Lexus, it’s tough financial times for some people….unless everyone you are mailing the letter to are all in the 1% (as opposed to us 99%’ers). It is okay to brag a little, but keep it low-key. (Will Occupy references make no sense in a year?)
People like funny (and I am guessing that is why my blog is not as successful as I would like). They like some self-deprecation with that hint of confidence. If you must brag then you have add something bad about yourself. Like maybe you bought a new iPad…lucky you…now mention how you constantly misplace it with your wallet and car keys.
Also, people like reality, but not too much reality. Most importantly your friends and family want to know you and your family are doing just fine. My wife has included information about my being laid off in 2009, but by the time Christmas rolled around and the letter was being written, I had a good job. But did she discuss my low back pain issues and trips to physical therapy and the chiropractor in this year’s letter? No. You see that is too much reality, not to mention its boring and maybe even worrisome (my Mom is a worry-wart). My son started shaving this year!…Now that deserves a sentence or so. On the other end of the news spectrum, my Grandmother passed away this year, an important sad event that needed a paragraph. Lorraine did a good job surround that information in an uplifting holiday message about appreciating our time with family members.
A few other dos and don’ts:
–Do keep it to one page. No more.
–Don’t type the letter in all cap’s. Welcome to this century Mr. Telegram!
–Do have someone else proofread your final copy. Then fix it. Some things will probably need to be changed. You may have thought the baby diaper joke was funny but everybody might just be disgusted in the way you wrote it.
–Don’t add a bunch of holiday cliches stuff. We get plenty of Twas this and Grinch that. Scrooge frowns upon your Christmas letter shenanigans. Actually, try to stay away from all the overdone cliches like, “Another year has passed…” or “Where did the time go?” I am sure you can come up with something better…or google up someone else’s creativity.
–Do consider your audience and write for them.
–Do end on a pleasant positive note.
So, if you have not gotten those cards in the mail yet (which means you are running a tad late, but that’s okay), then try writing and adding a holiday year-in-review letter. Its a good way to end the year. Plus it will get you thinking about the things you want to have happen that will appear in the letter next year! (oh, and another thing, Do use only one exclamation point at the end of a sentence!!!!. It’s all you need, really.)