Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Time to Write That Holiday Letter

Flickr photo courtesy GraceFoto<3

The annual tradition of the holiday letter is a great way to keep in touch with our far-flung loved ones; an opportunity to update friends and family on career changes, family news and other achievements of the past year. Often it’s the only communication we have with some of our friends. Traditionally, these letters have earned the reputation as a vehicle for self-aggrandizement. Braging about the clever things our kids have done or a laundry list of vacations and fabulous social occasions we’ve participated in. So much so that there has been a recent backlash to this annual ‘fake autobiography’ with people chronicling the intimate and often sobering details of their lives in much the same way reality TV profiles modern America. I’m not an advocate of these ‘tell all’ letters but I do think that these letters can be a rich opportunity to share who you are and some of your own history with others.

For some new ideas on the age-old letter, look to the internet. There are some great websites that give you advice, templates and artwork to use in your annual letter. Christmas Letter Tips is one such site. Consider allowing your children to write the letter. They provide a different perspective and are often good at getting right at the heart of what they want to recognize and acknowledge about the previous year. Several years ago, I wrote a holiday letter from the perspective of our family dog. He shared what it was like living in our house and what he dreamt about at night. It was a huge hit and I got comments back for years from people who got a kick out of reading it. We even received a few responses from other friends’ dogs.

You might consider using this opportunity to pen a remembrance of something that happened in your own life. A story that allowed you the opportunity to learn or grow, or an experience with a beloved family member. Many of these stories haven’t been shared or perhaps the specific incident in the story has been long forgotten. Including such stories in an annual letter is a terrific way to jumpstart your own memoir project. Be sure to locate a few old photos to scan and include in your letter. They will enhance and provide a visual context for the story.

Please feel free to leave comments on this topic if you have some ideas you’d like to share. Likewise, please pass this link on to your friends who may be interested in this subject.


Stefani Twyford is a personal historian and video biographer sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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