Why You Should Consider Writing a Christmas Letter This Year

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One of my very favorite parts of this season is when our minds turn to holiday cards! I just adore sending and receiving Christmas cards. Honestly, getting a Christmas card in the mail makes my day every single time! (So, no worries there – know that if you send me a card, it’s appreciated!) Every year, I tape up the cards we receive on the big white closet doors in our kitchen. It’s so fun spending the weeks that lead up to Christmas seeing our friends and family smiling at us from their cards, and (hopefully!) getting to read life updates from them in letter form, too!

And if a letter accompanies your card, I get so excited! I’m all about writing a Christmas letter each year.

A little background: I grew up with no extended family in the state – or even relatives in neighboring states, for that matter! It was just the 5 of us in my immediate family living in Minnesota (well, and we lived in Texas for several years) and it was what I was used to. Until Bjorn came into my life… 🙂

When I first learned that my husband had so many of his relatives in the area, I was blown away. Both sides of his family were nearby? Seriously?? It was so cool!

We now live very close to much of Bjorn’s family, and I’m also SO grateful that my own parents live just 2 hours away. It makes weekend trips easy when we want to visit, and knowing they’re not too far at all is just a cozy, wonderful feeling. Plus, having family nearby here has been the biggest blessing for us as new parents – or when we just want to have an impromptu taco night with people. 😉

– But what if you DON’T live nearby?

I’m convinced that the idea of having family “nearby” doesn’t mean you have to be physically near each other. It can ALSO mean they are near to your heart. Physical location is an added bonus, but there are ways to keep close and keep in touch even when you’re miles apart!

Enter snail mail.

My mom and her four siblings have participated in a circle letter for years, since they live all over the U.S. This letter idea was initially started by my grandpa. As the large envelope travels around the country, each family adds a new letter to the pile. Growing up, it was so fun to read “The Boomer,” as they call it (short for “boomerang”) and hear about the goings-on in our relatives’ lives through the shared letters. This way, you got to see people’s handwriting, enjoy their enclosed photos, and stay up-to-date on their lives in a very tangible, non-Facebook-y way.

Because we don’t see our relatives often, I ALWAYS looked forward to the annual Christmas cards and the letters that arrived with the cards. Christmas letters are such a sweet way to hear updates about the people in our lives – not only relatives, but old friends, new friends, co-workers, and people we haven’t seen in years but still think about!

So, obviously, I get excited about Christmas cards and letters each year.

RELATED READING: Our 2018 Christmas Cards + a promo code!

I remember daydreaming about getting to send out our very first Christmas cards to friends and relatives. It has been so much fun sending out our Christmas letters these past…4(?!) years. This year will be our 5th year sending out a card and letter as the Olson family, and I can’t wait!

We will be including a letter along with each Christmas card – an aspect of card-exchanging that is especially important to me. I love continuing our letter-writing tradition. Letter-writing to stay in touch with loved ones is a special facet of my growing-up years that I do not want to lose.

Why you should consider sending out a holiday letter this year:

I know, I know – for some of you, the idea of a letter sounds a little ridiculous. After all, what is there to write about? What if it’s been a hard year? Or will it sound like bragging?

I have DEFINITELY wrestled with some of these questions, at length. Some people may feel it’s silly to send out a Christmas letter if you don’t yet have kids, or your children’s busy activities to write about (I disagree – I think a letter is perfect in any life stage). I understand that some people have concerns about holiday letters for various reasons. And it can take a lot of thoughtfulness to draft and finish one that reads well and one that you’re satisfied with.

But I have come to the conclusion that there are some very valid reasons to write and send out a holiday letter.

1 // It’s a fun way to reflect and journal on the past year. It is! Yes, I blog, and yes, so many of us are on Facebook now days, but where else can you get a succinct snapshot of the past 12 months in a neat little package? Each year when I begin to work on our current Christmas letter, I pull up the old ones I’ve written and honestly get lost in them for a few minutes. I love reading what our excitements, joys, plans, and “newsy” items were a couple years ago!

It’s just like when Facebook pulls up an old “memory” of something that happened “6 years ago today” – like the old photo Bjorn and I took together — it’s a black & white selfie, blurry, taken in his mom’s kitchen, and we were celebrating counting down to 200 days BEFORE our wedding! Can you believe it? All the sentiments and memories flood right back when I look at that photo. And it’s a beautiful thing. So, whether or not you journal in everyday life, I encourage you to “journal” in this way! Sure, it’s a more public journal – but I guarantee others will celebrate and remember with you. <3

2 // It reminds us of God’s provision. Come November, it’s easy for me to begin to stare the whole long winter in the face and get bogged down by nitty-gritty realities in front of me and the dreary weather out the window. But let me tell you, when I’m spending 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there working on this letter, I’m reflecting on all that has happened since January 2018. (And a LOT has happened!)

Suddenly, I am totally struck by God’s hand of provision in our lives and all that He has lovingly taken us through and used to grow us. Believe me, there are some tough things we’ve walked through over the past year or two. But passing through them not only strengthened me as a person, but it strengthened my trust in the One who created me and leads me. Basically, writing a record of “how 2018 went” (regardless of if you include all the difficult details) forces you to look back on how God led you through the “bad” times and the good. It’s like a gratitude journal – a beautiful mental practice that allows you to look at realities of life while still celebrating God’s character.

3 // It updates friends and family who you may not see often. This is kind of the obvious reason. Something you may not know about me: I’m not the absolute best at staying in touch with everyone. It’s kind of frustrating to admit. But it doesn’t mean that I want to get out of touch with you! I could write a whole other post about staying in touch after college, or after high school, and how I want to improve in that area….but at the end of the day, know that I do care! The people we choose to send Christmas letters to are those who have impacted our lives, stood by us, encouraged us, or otherwise brought us joy and friendship! Why not catch up a bit via letter?

And just as much as I like to share these updates with friends and family, if not more so, I LOVE to receive Christmas letters and life updates from YOU! It’s like getting a Christmas present early when I find a friend’s card and letter in the mail. Like I mentioned, we tape them up on a big white closet door in our kitchen and we just love knowing what you all are up to!! It feels like we’re hanging out again, in a sense, and brings those ties of friendship back closer across the miles and years. 🙂

4 // It’s a super “excuse” to get in touch with people! We love you and this is our way during the month of December to get back in touch a bit. 🙂 The warmth and joy of the holiday season brings the perfect chance to spread those warm fuzzies with even more people than those you see on a daily or regular basis. Why not brighten someone else’s day with your card and letter? Sure, it takes a little bit of effort, but those warm fuzzies are worth it.

5 // Letter writing is becoming a lost art. It really is. When I moved from Texas to Minnesota as a 2nd grader, we had a little going-away party (actually a birthday party) for me in which we had my friends share their addresses written on cute Texas star notecards and we plopped in a little wicker basket. The whole idea was that I could write them letters even when I moved to MN. And I did!

I also loved writing letters to friends and family while in college, and I still do occasionally, just as a fun way to mix up the mode of communication. But life updates in the form of physical mail is truly becoming a lost art and snail mail needs to be kept alive! We instead just get snippets of “updates” via people’s Facebook photos and other little announcements that fly by throughout the year. But Facebook doesn’t cover it all. So much more of life happens under the social media surface. So it’s fun to be a bit more intentional come holiday season. There is something so special about receiving a physical letter from someone. And whether they wrote or typed it… knowing that they thought of you, wrote it, folded it up, and stuffed it in an envelope just for you, is extremely meaningful.

Your turn!

So, do you think yet that I’m trying to convince you to send out a holiday letter this year?? 😉 Well, I am. Did it work?

I really encourage you to consider these 5 reasons why holiday letters are important and to jump in with your own this year. If you need someone to send it to, we’d love to get yours, too! More on that below.

Even if you simply ease into this by drafting a letter this year and you don’t send it out…I’d say you’re accomplishing several of these meaningful reasons already. You’re reflecting on the year, you’re acknowledging God’s hand of provision or how He’s working in your life, you’re expressing yourself and processing your life through writing…

PS – If your Christmas season is crazy busy this year, there’s no rule against sending out a New Year card and letter! Artifact Uprising even has cute card templates for that!

Even though I can’t technically send every one of you our holiday card… if you send us yours, it’ll be so appreciated, and if we have an extra, we’ll try to mail ours to you! 🙂 If you’re interested, my address is: PO Box 441, Elmore, MN 56027.

What are your holiday card or letter-writing traditions? Where are you ordering your holiday cards from this year? 🙂

PS — Wondering where to get your cards this year?? I highly recommend Artifact Uprising! Get a deep discount of 20% off your cards this year with the code SPREADCHEER if you order by December 7th!

RELATED: Our 2018 Christmas Cards