An Inexpensive Meaningful Christmas Gift: Handwritten Letters

We have so many Christmas traditions in our family, I sometimes think we are a little tradition crazy. For example, on Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story out of Scripture. We wait until the wee hours to put out our gifts so that we wake to a beautiful display under the Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, we eat homemade, deep fried, cinnamon-sugar-coated donuts. We designate one person to be Santa who, wearing the obligatory Santa hat, hands out the gifts. But how we choose this person changes from year to year, depending on the whim of the moment or the loudest voice. We love keeping our traditions, even if we forget one or two, because they are the foundation to our Christmas memories.

The very best Christmas tradition we have, though, takes a little time and effort from each member. We write each other a personal letter. Brothers write sisters, sisters write brothers, brothers write brothers, sisters write sisters, parents write to each child. Last year, we added a daughter-in-law, so she received a personal letter from each of us welcoming her to our family and our tradition. This year, we are excited about the upcoming birth of a new baby, our first grandchild. Even though this baby is presently snuggled in mama’s womb, we will write letters to this precious little one, expressing how excited we are to meet him or her later this year.

When we started this tradition, our youngest could hardly write. But write he did. He struggled, but those first few letters are priceless. In those first years, we framed the letters along with a picture of all four siblings. As testimony to the value of this simple gift, each child took their framed picture and hung it on their wall. Throughout the year, they had a constant reminder of the love and support from family.

It is the Christmas season and time or us to break out pen and paper, sit down, reflect, and write. Here are some ideas on how you could incorporate this tradition in your family’s Christmas celebration this year.

Even The Youngest Children Can Create a Letter

Even the youngest can draw a picture. If the child can talk, but not write, have him dictate the letter to you. Then, let him decorate it with ink stamps, stickers or a picture they have drawn. For babies, a tracing of the hand or a foot would be a priceless gift along with a picture of the baby. Better yet, if a picture is available of the baby and the person receiving the letter, add that to the feet or hand tracing.

Family Members Can Write Letters from Far Away

This is one of the greatest blessings of this tradition. If a family member is away and cannot be home for the holidays, letters are simple and inexpensive to mail. As our family grows, adds spouses and grandbabies, we will not always be together every Christmas. These letters will help us be together in spirit.

It is Important the Letter is Handwritten

While it may seem easier to jump on the keyboard and type a letter, there is nothing more sincere than handwriting a letter. It is a lost art in our culture, but one that is valuable enough to preserve. Even if the handwriting is messy, loopy, big, small, expressive or chicken scratch, it is a unique reflection of the person who wrote it rather than a mass produced font on a keyboard.

Choose a Method to Store Your Christmas Letters

Last year, we realized we needed a different storage method. We purchased three ring binders from a scrapbook supply store. We took the previous years’ letters, placed them in archival quality, acid-free plastic sleeves, added the present year’s letter, and put them all in the binder. This protects them for the many years they will be read and reread. The binder makes it easy to add more pages. Buy a big binder. This tradition will become very popular in your family once the first letter is read.

Pictures are an Important Part of the Letter

Add a recent picture to the letter. If you, like me, find scrapbooking overwhelming and cannot even seem to glue the first picture on a page, this is a simple, easy way to create a chronicle of your family. Each person keeps his or her own binder, creating their own personal chronicle. It’s a win-win!

Personal Christmas Letters are Inexpensive, yet Meaningful

We have all been affected by these economic times. People everywhere are cutting back, doing with less. This tradition will be the highlight of this year’s celebrations because of the inherent value of a personal note, thoughtfully and carefully written.

The tradition of Christmas letters keeps our family strong and connected. The letters relate memories of the past year and anticipation for the year ahead. They are full of encouragement and praise. They bring smiles and sighs from the recipients. They allow us to speak into each others’ lives when we cannot be physically present. They are our blessings to each other on paper. May they be a blessing to you and your family this upcoming Christmas. Cheers!