Monday, November 26, 2007

The great newsletter debate.

The Christmas cards I actually ordered before Thanksgiving arrived today. I admit I was kind of hoping I had exaggerated the not-so-greatness of the photo in my mind. I hadn't. There they were, my four children squinting through the sunshine with forced smiles on their overexposed faces. It's amazing how I can get such wonderful shots of my children individually but put them all together and it's hopeless. I think next year, I may just pick a great individual shot of each of them and do a type of collage. Or maybe actually splurge for a professional photo. Imagine that.

But this year, in an effort to fore go my quest for a perfect Christmas in exchange for a peaceful one, I am sending them as they are. And the picture isn't horrible exactly, it just fails to capture all their gorgeous personalities. Which I doubt anyone would appreciate quite as much as me anyway.

Which brings us to the next part of the Christmas Card process - the annual newsletter. Several years ago, I decided it would be fun to write a newsletter updating the world on what we had been up to that year. Yes, I actually thought it would be fun. I only had two children at the time, and I must have not settled into my roll as "The Family Scrooge" yet.

And I think it was fun the first year. But what no one tells you is once you have decided to enter the world of Christmas Newsletters, there is no returning to the simple days of stuffing a photo in an envelope. Unwittingly I had added one huge item - recap our entire year in a witty, non-boring letter that doesn't sound too much like the previous year, and keep it as short as possible so someone might actually read it - to my Holiday to do list.

And every time I suggest that I might not write a letter that year, a handful of people - most of whom live in this house - let out a loud protest. Oh, and my mother-in-law. She loves the letter. Bless her proud Gramma heart.

But I am finding it increasingly difficult to be witty or original or interesting. And I wonder if anyone - besides my mother-in-law, of course - even enjoys receiving them.

So I am asking you, my bloggy friends, do any of you write a newsletter? And if you receive them, do you like it? I understand by asking people who read/write blogs that I am asking a portion of the population that generally likes reading about other's lives, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.

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And today I am thankful for Brandon. I stay on his case more than any of my children because he is, well, a fifteen year old boy. But every night when I am making dinner, he helps me occupy the weekids. Most of the time, without complaint. And sometimes, like tonight, he volunteers to do things like give baths, or feed dinners. And I am grateful for him. For many reasons of course, but tonight particularly so, because he preserves my sanity.

11 comments:

Heather :) said...

First, a note on the Christmas Card pic. That's why I do send out a collage of my family b/c I spent too many years in frustration (both me and the kids and Steve) trying to get the perfect photo for the card! It does make a funny scrapbooking page, though. ;) So, for about 3 or 4 yrs. now I have sent out a collage b/c it guarantees that we all will have a great pic. of ourselves somewhere on the card. I can't wait to see the card of yours this year and the collage for next. :) Secondly, I do enjoy getting the updates as long as they are not too long. We once got one that was 2 pages, probably size 8 font and single spaced. Needless to say, we threw it out before reading it all. My one friend does a favorite things one where she writes the family members name and then next to it about 10 things that they have loved that year. So, that's cute too. Have fun and I can't wait to see what you come up with. :)

Christine said...

1--i want to see that picture! it was awful trying to get a decent picture of my kiddos this year.

2--honestly? really honestly? i hate those things. i would much rather have a couple of personally written sentences directly to me rather than a long letter. I know. I am so mean. I think part of the problem is that the people i get these letters from are people who i already see all the time. the people far away never do that. so in the end i guess if i received a letter from far away i would be more interested than one from a person down the road.

3--i've been reading past posts. . .you are a great writer, friend. seriously.

Chaotic Joy said...

Oh Christine, with that complement, you made my night. I feel so often out of my league around here. And thanks for your honesty on the newsletter. It's what I wanted, people to tell me what they really think.

Chrissy said...

Hey, we did post on the same thing today. I'm anti-newsletter myself. I don't like the braggy ones, and I get jealous of people who write about their fabulous cruises and ski vacations with their picture perfect families. (Bitter? Me?)

I do think bragging on your kids' accomplishments is sweet, and probably nice for the kids to hear, too.

I'm with you on the to-do list. That's the real reason I never send one out. it's too much work.

Lindsay said...

We do a letter every year and I too dread it. But I kind of enjoy it as well. It is a time for me to look back and remember all that has happened this year. We also have alot of friends and family who do not live near us. Most we hardly talk to. SO they really enjoy getting caught up on things like: Homeschooling, what the toddlers new accomplishments are, and where we are in ministry.
I love reading them too. it connects me to peoples lives that I don't get to connect with during the year. It shows me where they moved, how big their kids are, and sometimes and update on the family pet. :-)
This year I included our blog address in it. That way they can hopefully keep up with us better throughout the next year.
Enjoy yourself.

Lindsay said...

We do a letter every year and I too dread it. But I kind of enjoy it as well. It is a time for me to look back and remember all that has happened this year. We also have alot of friends and family who do not live near us. Most we hardly talk to. SO they really enjoy getting caught up on things like: Homeschooling, what the toddlers new accomplishments are, and where we are in ministry.
I love reading them too. it connects me to peoples lives that I don't get to connect with during the year. It shows me where they moved, how big their kids are, and sometimes and update on the family pet. :-)
This year I included our blog address in it. That way they can hopefully keep up with us better throughout the next year.
Enjoy yourself.

Kyla said...

No letters here. I can barely get my act together for Christmas cards. Addresses and envelopes and stamps? AGH! I prefer digital communication, cheaper and easier. LOL. But look at it this way, you can look back over old blog posts from the year and throw in some bloggy goodness. Yum. Everyone loves bloggy goodness. ;)

I'm so glad you have Brandon.

Beck said...

15 year olds ARE a pain in the butt, but yours sounds like he's growing up to be a wonderful man.

Lisa writes... said...

Looks like I may be in the minority, but I love the newsletters. Having moved a few times, most of the cards we send and receive are from out of town and generally the only contact we have all year. I do despise the ones that brag, though. Here's my philosophy: I send a newsletter only to those I do not see in real life on a regular basis and in the letter I do my best to describe our life and the kids' personalities, NOT our accomplishments (which, by the way, would make for a very short letter indeed). My two cents'...

And as the mom of a thirteen year old, I understand your gratitude and your frustration parenting a teenager. How much I need the grace and wisdom of God!

painted maypole said...

we do a letter, and I enjoy getting them from people I see often. I get frustrated when friends just send a card with absolutely nothing in it, and the last I heard from them was last Dec, and I wonder what is going on (like the friend of my husband who one year started sending cards not with his name, his wife, and the child we know, but rather his name and some other lady we've never heard of. Um... care to fill us in, buddy?) i do try to keep it short and not TOO braggy. I don't send them to people we see regularly, unless they are family, who like to read how we've managed to recap a year in a few paragraphs. I also, frankly, find it really hard to write a paragraph about my husband. "he works and plays video games in his spare time" gets old after a few years. ;) i do also TRY to write a few personal lines in most of the cards, but don't manage to always get that done.

Lori said...

I enjoy reading other people's letters (most of them, that is). I am quite sure that your newsletter is highly enjoyable to read and is just the right blend of pride and humility.

Those older boys can be oh so helpful with the little ones, can't they? I think that any boy who knows how to care for and entertain little ones has a good heart and will ultimately find his true path.