Holidays make a great time to share stories. There’s no question about it. When we’re thinking of loved ones—or better yet spending time with them—stories connect us and express our bonds.
But it’s not just stories that we tell. There’s something about that calendar page turning over, the new digit on the end of the year, that makes us want to provide some sort of a recap. A snapshot in time. In fact, the chapter in my book about compiling a holiday or year end letter is titled “Easy Snapshots in Time.”
So, I should be able to pull together a “Happy New Year” letter, originally meant to be a Christmas letter. This year, I’m struggling with the concept. As people draw together, celebrate together, and look forward to the New Year, I want to be included in their thoughts. But I’m torn about whether or not their plunge into the New Year should include reading a litany of my family’s year. Perhaps I’d be better off just telling them a story that reflects us in a moment of time.
Since I’m deliberating on the topic, I’ve paid close attention to the letters that have graced our mailbox and my inbox. And, some friend’s mailboxes.
There are some great ideas. As I choose which one to use, I thought I’d list them in case you, like me, haven’t pulled the annual letter together yet.
The newsy family Year End Letter
I particularly appreciated a newsy family recap that I got from a childhood friend. Instead of limiting it to her immediate nuclear family, she included how both her parents chose to celebrate their 80th birthdays and the status of her brother and his wife. Having not seen any of them for the last 15 years, I loved reading it and visualizing the family celebrating together.
Year End Achievements and Failures Recap:
A fellow writer used this approach in her year end letter. I really enjoyed it. Her honest assessment of what worked and what didn’t wasn’t just helpful. It was also endearing, although I wondered about her listing her divorce as a success. Interesting viewpoint.
Best moments of the year:
Similar to what Facebook generates, we got a best moments of the year letter, peppered with pictures. I liked it, but I’m not sure what I would choose other than traveling with my son in Europe.
Medical Crises du Jour:
We do occasionally encounter times in our lives when a medical problem or condition eclipses everything else in our lives. Or worse, explains why nothing else is going on. I’m thankful that this one isn’t called for in our family.
However, my in-laws, who are in their 80s, recently received a year end letter than read more like an unabridged medical chart than a letter. I’m not advocating that.
Lessons of the previous year:
This one I didn’t actually get, although I wish I had. It’s one of the top contenders for my letter’s approach. I’d love to see how someone else pulls this off, especially if it’s funny.
Goals for the Coming Year:
I love this one’s forward looking viewpoint. I made me pull for the writer as well as evaluate whether or not I should join her in some of her resolutions. I’m not sure how cherished these letters will be by recipients, but it seems a great way for the year end letter writer to get off to a good start. (Let’s face it. Part of the reason I’m struggling is that I want to write something cherish-worthy.)
Omniscient narrator review:
Another option I’m considering is that of an omniscient narrator. Someone who knows all, sees all. and tells the story from an outside point of view. That’s fine for my characters, but I feel a little bashful letting someone like that into my home. Besides, what would they title the story? The Reluctant Empty-Nesters Sit on the Couch with their Laptops.
Maybe that’s it. A choice of Titles that would sum up the year.
listening reading. If you’ve come up with a brilliant plan for a year-end letter (or year beginning one), please drop me a note.