Holiday Newsletters Spread Cheer Far & Near
One of the traditions I most look forward to at year's end is catching up with old friends. And what better way to recap an entire year than through your own "holiday newsletter"!
Even if you've never published one yourself, I'm sure you've received your share over the years. But since it's probably been at least 11 months since you last read one, your recollection may be a bit stale, like last year's fruitcake.
The purpose of this hub is to guide you through the process of creating your own year-end communication. You can follow one model or mix and match styles. The approach you choose will depend on the kind of year you've had, your general personality type, and the impression you wish to create.
Congratulations: You're a Publisher
I will give you fair warning. Holiday newsletters are not for the faint of heart. After all, you're sharing your most personal experiences with people who may or may not be prepared to hear about them. Examine your motives. Are you seeking primarily to inform? Engender sympathy? Entertain?
In some cases, a brief, handwritten card may actually be preferable.
Do you send holiday newsletters?
It is certainly not my place to suggest whether you should or shouldn't write a holiday newsletter. Nor is it my place to suggest which style is most appropriate for you. Those decisions are as intensely personal as your choice to believe (or not) in Santa Claus or whether to top your tree with a star or an angel.
My task is simply to offer you the benefits of many years of newsletter reading -- and writing -- and let you come to your own (hopefully) jolly conclusions.
By far the most prevalent style of newsletter. The gushletter is guaranteed to lift the holiday spirits of all your friends. They will be so thrilled to learn of all the delightful things in your life that they can't help but feel blessed just to know you!
The gushletter emphasizes all of the superlatives of your year. If you have even one down moment in 365 days, this is NOT the place to admit it.
To pull the gushletter off successfully you must either live a charmed existence or in a state of denial.
Now, there is a potential downside of the gushlette. Your friends may be suspicious or jealous of your charmed life. Be careful not to overdo, or you might cause your friends to turn green like the Grinch.
People who write gushletters tend to be Pollyannas. They are just generally happy, sunny, and, well, gushy.
If that seems entirely too upbeat for you, here's one that's more sly.
Although both focus on accomplishments, the gloatletter serves a slightly different purpose. This newsletter is all about keeping up with the Joneses. As such, it is also the newsletter-of-choice for Joneses everywhere.
The gloatletter reports in minute, "look-at-us-aren't-we-special" detail every accomplishment of every member of the family.
If you have a gloatletter-writer in your circle, you may notice an interesting trend over time: Her husband gets promoted every single year! Her kids excel at every sport -- not just soccer and baseball, but fencing, water polo and chess. From K through 12 they never, ever get less than straight A's! Of course she stays busy with a dizzying array of community activities --which inevitably raise bazillions of dollars. It never rains on their fabulous family vacations. And their new puppy Bowzer jumps straight from obedience training to Best in Show at Westminster!
Wow! I wish I could have half that much success!
If you find yourself having such a year of incredible wonderfulness, there's no question. It demands nothing less than a gloatletter! Write it up -- and don't forget the family photos and cutesy captions to really rub that holidy spirit in!!
The groanletter is the newsletter equivalent of "Bah, humbug." If Eyore had opposable thumbs, this is the kind of letter he would write.
Yes, we all have shitty years. Into each life some rain does fall. I get that. But for goodness' sake. Some things are better left unsaid.
Again, go back to examining your motives (see above). Your newsletter does more than communicate. It creates a mood, an ambiance as palpable as cinnamon candles. Line after line of loss is a heavy burden to put on your friends. And don't think you can counter a full page of downer news with a cheery ending, either. Some readers may never get that far, because they've blurred the whole bottom of the page with tears.
I'm not saying to omit unhappy news entirely. I'm saying to at least balance out the negatives with a positive ...or several.
If this year has been singularly awful and you choose to share that with your friends, please do them the courtesy of waiting till after January 1st. By then people will be in a perfect frame of mind to read your newsletter -- especially if you time it to arrive with their credit card statements.
Fill in your info and make it your own
I am blessed to have friends whose newsletters I genuinely look forward to each year. They have a magical way of describing their lives. They write of marriage, children, work, sickness, and loss of parents with equal aplomb.
What comes through is a contagious affection for life. I picture them sitting down to write and asking themselves, "How can I get a smile out of this?"
The great thing about the giggleletter is its versatility. It's truly the one-size-fits-all-news-letter. With the right attitude, you can make your bad news more bearable, any news a gift from your heart.
If writing comedy seems too daunting, the giggleletter may be a stretch. Give it a shot anyway. For novice writers, you might want to start out slow with something I call the "grinletter." Try adapting a well-known poem or holiday reading (I wrote mine one year in the form of "Twas the Night Before Christmas").
Are You Ready to Spread Cheer???
At the end of the day (or year, as the case may be), the choice is up to you. Sending a holiday newsletter is sort of like giving everyone on your list the same gift card.
Some will appreciate it; others will find it tacky and generic.
I wish you happy holiday writing -- and may all the newsletters you receive this year bring smiles all year long.