One of this season’s popular rituals is the annual Christmas or New Years Letter. People who haven’t spoken with one another all year recap the accomplishments of their children and grandchildren, announce their work promotions or retirements, and describe past travels and future vacation plans. Occasionally a negative experience makes the list, (Dad’s surgery, the dog had to be put down) but the form encourages one to end on a high note of gratitude for blessings received and an expression of good wishes for the coming year.
I must admit to enjoying hearing from friends and family in this way and in responding back in kind. With the instant communications of emails, Facebook and Twitter, there’s something reassuring about the leisurely pace of the yearly letter. It seems an invitation for reflection on the past year, a chance to go inward in keeping with the energy of the Winter Solstice season.
But for some people, taking time to write a letter in the midst of shopping, decorating, and cooking for the end of the year holidays, makes no sense. I know in some years, I’ve put mine off till sometime in January, figuring the good wishes I’m sending are for the whole of the coming year.
One year my daughter, when she had three young children at home, decided to put her annual letter off until Valentines Day. With all the hoopla of the holidays and her family members’ fall and winter birthdays behind her, she could comfortably focus on the messages of love she wanted to send. And it turned out to be the most special of valentines and a great way to celebrate that holiday.