Christmastime is Letter-Writing Time

Christmas Is Letter Writing Time

Of all the many, many reasons to love Christmas, here’s one that’s often overlooked: it’s the time of year for writing letters. We love to send real letters—written on proper stationery and sent through the post—and we love to receive them, too! But in these busy days it’s hard to muster the ambition to do it, especially when you can send a text or email and get a reply seconds later.

The Vermont Country Store mailbox with Christmas letters
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Only the Christmas season still has the power to make us take the time to sit down and compose a truly thoughtful letter.

It starts, of course, with kids’ letters to Santa. What a labor of hope and joy they were! Painstakingly written in cursive on school composition paper; every word was a different size despite the dotted guidelines. These letters were full of personality, with surprising confessions, oddball observations about family life, and even more surprising requests. They make delightful reading around the holiday table, even today.

Then there were Christmas cards. Our family sends out dozens, and each one deserves a little personal note. Cards sent to close friends and family often have a whole letter tucked inside. We know people who have kept these cards for decades and re-read them fondly every year.
And when Christmas was over, there were the thank-you notes. Every kid wrote Grandma and Grandpa a note of thanks. It was non-negotiable, and Mom stood sternly by to make sure it got done. To a kid, these “extra” writing assignments seemed pointless. But think of the life-long habit they set in motion: “Take the time to appreciate the gift and take the time to express your appreciation.” That’s a powerful lesson.

What about today? Does Santa read tweets or posts on Facebook? Somehow, we don’t think so. This Christmas, like every Christmas, is a good time to slow down and put pen to paper.

Eliot Orton for The Orton Family

One Response to “Christmastime is Letter-Writing Time”

  1. Harriet Stay, President UPMA Retired Postmasters, WA

    When I opened my new catalog, there was your family letter. I was elated! I am a retired Postmaster and would love to share your letter with fellow Postmasters in my state, Washington, and possibly across our nation. The Postmasters produce individual state and a national newsletter. I need your permission to print your letter in our periodicals.

    Your letter made me wish I was still working because in my small office I, with my town, celebrated and decorated for every holiday. I devised letter-writing games for the school children and for Halloween, we (including the teachers) set up a Trick-or-Treat throughout the town culminating in a party at the school. Naturally, I had acquired an old mail box for the Santa letters and had a crew to answer each. I wonder if I can stimulate some old fashion letter-writing via your Christmastime Letter?