I used to be very proud of my Christmas letters. My sister, step-mom and dad and I would each have a paragraph dedicated to us with an enthusiastic summary of how our year went. It was something I loved, an assignment. And I got like a strange amount of positive feedback about these letters, just saying it was very well written and engaging. I recall a time in July (read: 7 months later) when an extended family member brought up the prior December’s letter. What the hell. “They aren’t THAT amazing,” I’d say, privately beaming.
But I haven’t written a single Christmas letter since I flew from the parents’ nest. Who has time/energy to pretend they aren’t kept down with debilitating depression, write this letter, gather some addresses, afford the stamps to send them, AND do all this during finals week? Yeah. No.
And maybe one might argue they wouldn’t have to pretend to not be depressed. I hope not. I dunno about you, but when I picture someone reading a Christmas letter, I imagine huge smiles, maybe the whole family gathered around in their Christmas sweaters by the fireplace, laughing a lot or something, reading a Christmas letter from a family who’s doing AMAZING and had SUCH a FABULOUS year, and everyone is happy, tis the season, etc.
Maybe that’s a bit of a narrative that’s my fault. What else is new.
So anyway, I decided this year I’d take the plunge. If anything, it sounds like a good writing exercise, which I clearly need more of based on the fact 2017 was the least prolific year I’ve had in my life since I started writing (12 years). Three poems and hardly any blog posts. Nothing else. So then I opened my lil Google Doc, cracked my knuckles, and everything is bad. How many letters do I have to write before I can squeeze somethin’ good?
And you know, when I was 15 and I was writing a Christmas letter about my fam, I was excited and honored that my family let me write on behalf of them. (Did I force myself into that role? idk maybe I can’t remember. so probably.) It felt like a noble duty to write a year summary, almost like doing a mini-feature on each member of the family. (It is no surprise that writing features at work is like my fave kind of writing).
So how do I, now almost 25, navigate the fact that I’m writing on behalf of just me, that some cool shit happened this year but overall I’m very scared for the future, and it’s not even 100% driven by my depression and PTSD this time? How do I churn out a Christmas letter that doesn’t make people feel like they need to drink some wine to forget about it later? Maybe I could put a disclaimer:
DON’T READ IF JOLLY.
I think I’ll figure it out. Maybe I could write a fictional Christmas letter from the perspective of someone else, and it’s a game, where people have to guess who it is??? Then I can avoid talking about my concerns about the future of people I love, my true year overview. OR! I could write one version on the front and one on the back, upside down.
Thank you. You’ve helped #inspire me.
Btw let me know if you want one. It’s sure to be a winner, clearly.