Darren M. Palmer
How to Write the Perfect Christmas Letter
Years ago, my mother worked by aiding an elderly woman with her breakfast, pills, and baths. When she passed away, her son called my mother and asked her to host the funeral reception. Across the room, my mother spotted an older madam, bearing lines on her face but with elegance and sweetness in her demeanor. My mother, who despised seeing guests lonely, greeted her, and the two formed a warm acquaintanceship. Arriving home later that day, my mom told me about this woman by the name of Marilyn. Time passed, and Marilyn flew home, and I am sure, as life carries on, she slipped through my mother’s memory.
One day, my mom received a letter from Marilyn. She expressed her appreciation for my mother coming to talk to her when no one else did. Her penmanship was so lovely and her words even more. As my fingers turned over the letter, I began to wonder in amazement at the time before I was born. You couldn’t email someone or shoot a text, having your message arrive in an instant. Instead, you found a chair, clutched a working pen, ignited the lamp on your desk, bowed your head, and penned a note to your friend, lover, or family member.
I imagine that during World War II and the Korean War, the mail would limp along, taking weeks to arrive. But to the soldiers crowded in the ditches over glowing fires, those dented letters were as sweet as a fresh batch of cookies. And for those in the States, the letters arrived in their snow-covered mailboxes, and their fingers, skipping the bills and finding what they came for, forced the flap open and hastily unfolded the thin paper. Some would recline on their couch as the fire roared, and the sparkling Christmas tree stood in the corner of their eye as they read it. As the radio droned on behind them, tears of remembrance would spring from their eyes, or their countenances would be smiling with rosy cheeks, roaring with laughter. Later, these letters would be guarded in a shoebox or treasured in their diary to read back over.
At the time, there was no other form of communication. Letters and telegrams were their only options. Now, with so many options, the significance weighs greater. Hand-written notes remind many that someone cares enough to take time to write a letter and send it to them. As we celebrate Christ’s birth this season, do you have someone special to you?
As your mind flits through the people you may know, don’t mistake youth for unappreciation. As a member of Generation Z, that letter my mother received stamped a lasting impression on me. Perhaps, rather than sending a letter to someone who came from a generation familiar with it, send it to someone who might have never received one before. The paper would be a tangible reminder of your care for them and could mean the world to them. Something tells me they will never forget it.
Here are some ways you can do it: buy some festive envelopes at Hobby Lobby and purchase cardstock paper. If you have children or nieces or nephews, have them join in on the fun. The note or letter doesn’t have to be long. Don’t seek perfection in the crafting of these keepsakes. Rather, seek ways to express love and joy in written form in the simplest of ways. This Christmas, write to whomever you wish, and express why they are special to you and how you wish them a wonderful holiday season.