If you've felt the pressure to conform with the Christmas-letter masses, I'm here to release you; sending the letter or card isn't going to make you more worthy or interesting or lovable. You are all those things no matter what. If sharing a family picture and letter gives you joy, yay! Keep it up; your friends appreciate it. If you'd like to try a low-ish pressure letter-writing method that I started a couple of years ago which makes this task feel a less like a chore and more like a Spiritual practice, keep reading.
Real quick, though, here's a hot tip: a "Christmas" letter doesn't have to be at Christmas. I recently received an All-Saints Day letter (by email - a letter also doesn't need to be in the mail) from someone that included both her life update and gratitude to people who were her 'saints' in 2021. And I've sent both a Valentine's Day Letter and a Lunar New Year letter when those were the holidays nearest when I got around to sharing updates to my family and friends.
Okay, here's what I really want to share. I learned it from another family's annual letter. No point keeping secrets - it was Rex and Lenae. They shared (and still share) interesting or eventful or fun things about each month and I wondered how they remembered all the details. Turns out they were keeping track! Simple as that. So I started to keep track too. With no set schedule or routine, just whenever I think of it, I write down events or achievements or things of note that have happened that day or that week. I try to do it at least once a month.
I might take note of the start of school in person, a birthday, a funny thing someone said. Maybe it's getting vaccinated or planting a garden or a new interest someone's getting into. I also try to think about what I've been thankful for each month and to notice what's felt especially hard. No surprise there was a lot of Covid-related and things-we-did-at-home content in my 2021.
At the end of the year (or at Lunar New Year) I take a look back over the notes I've made. Not everything makes it into the letter. I edit things down a bit. But part of the beauty of this way of doing the letter is the opportunity to remember where we were and what we were doing throughout the year and giving thanks. This year especially I was thankful for all we made it through!
You might already be a journaling type and have a place to put these little notes. But a notes app on a phone would probably work pretty well. Last year I set aside a couple pages in a notebook I use for doodles and hand-lettering. The year I just tucked a couple pieces of printer paper into my planner that I'll move along to wherever I am at the moment.
I also include pictures in my letter, which seems slightly redundant in the age of social media, but it does liven up the page a little. May you find grace and blessing in the moments of 2022, whether or not you are writing them down.