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How to Write Family Christmas Letters

Updated on December 9, 2014

The Art of Christmas Letter Writing

Love 'em or hate 'em, family Christmas letters have become a part of our culture. Each year, millions of people send and receive these annual updates.

But knowing what to write and how to say it can be challenging. Would you like help creating great holiday letters?

Here are some tips on how to write Christmas letters your readers will enjoy, as well as some links for Christmas letter paper you can order online and Christmas letter templates you can download and use immediately.

(Image of printable Christmas letter template from Christmas Letter Tips.com)

8 Tips for Writing Better Family Christmas Letters

Simple reminders to keep your letters fun for everyone!

1. Be yourself.

This is the cardinal rule of holiday letter writing. Write like you speak. Your letter should sound like you wrote it, not like it was penned by your seventh grade English teacher.

2. Don't brag.

If something good happened to you and your family, announce it, but keep it low-key. Readers don't enjoy gloating. Remember when you played sports in school and had to shake hands with the losing team after winning a great victory? Keep that image in mind while announcing your latest victories.

3. Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly.

If you're tempted to add words like "great" and "exciting" and "wonderful" in every sentence, take a break and see rule #1 above.

4. Be creative.

Your Christmas letter doesn't have to be a long narrative of everything that happened to your family this year. Be creative. Use bullet points, create a puzzle, or turn it into a multiple-choice quiz. You'll find more creative Christmas letter ideas at Christmas Letter Tips.com.

5. Make it colorful.

Holiday letters are easier and more fun to read when you spice them up with family photos, Christmas clip art, or other images (such as scanned children's artwork). You can also buy Christmas stationery or Christmas letter templates (such as the one pictured here) to make your letter more fun.

6. Have fun!

Remember that the goal of your annual Christmas letter should be to entertain and inform your readers. If you don't have fun creating it, your recipients probably won't enjoy reading it.

7. Read it out loud.

Have you succeeded in writing an informative, entertaining holiday letter? Read it out loud, or have someone else read it to you. If it doesn't sound right, try again.

8. Add a personal note.

Add one or two handwritten lines at the bottom of each letter to add a personal touch and leave your readers feeling good.

Creative Christmas Letters Book - For more ideas, check out this book

Ideas for Writing Creative Christmas Letters: That People Are Actually Eager to Read!
Ideas for Writing Creative Christmas Letters: That People Are Actually Eager to Read!

This book has some great suggestions for creative Christmas letters and gives real examples from the author's family letters. Ideas include Christmas letters disguised as classified ads, trivia games, election results, family statistics and more. If you're looking for some unique ideas, this book will get you thinking.

 
creative christmas letter card
creative christmas letter card

An All-in-One Christmas Card and Letter

Share your top 10 moments of the year

With today's technology, who needs a separate piece of paper for your Christmas letter? Forget about stuffing your letter inside a card. This clever design from Shutterfly can serve as a card and a letter.

The front of this 5 x 7 card offers room for three photos and a list of the top 10 highlights of your year. And you can create it all online! Simply type in the text in the provided areas and upload your photos. Then preview your design before ordering. You're done! Shutterfly also offers other creative holiday cards. Visit Shutterfly to see more.

Once you've written your letter, you'll want to create a design or buy a template or preprinted stationery that will add color and fun to your words.

You can get printable Christmas stationery with matching envelopes online at places such as AmericanGreetings.com.

American Greetings offers a 30-day free trial membership, which will give you access to printable Christmas cards, as well as holiday letterhead, Santa letter paper and other printable and electronic holiday cards and hundreds of other printable projects.

You can buy printable Christmas letter templates online or get preprinted Christmas stationery at local stationery stores, discount stores and greeting card shops. If you prefer to shop or shop online, see below for some of the great Christmas letterhead you can purchase from Zazzle.

Christmas Letter Paper

Stationery for your holiday letter

Zazzle is a great place to shop for stationery for your Christmas letter. You'll find thousands of unique designs, and you can customize the letterhead with their online interface. It's fun and easy!

Here are just a few of the designs you'll find there. Click on a picture to see a larger image and to explore the wide range of paper they offer.

Creating Digital Christmas Letters - Put Your Family Christmas Letter Online

Is ordinary paper and Christmas clip art is too 20th century for you? Then go digital. These days it's easy to put your ramblings online for either a short period or for longer archiving.

There are several options for putting your family Christmas letters online, including creating a page on your blog or your own web site or , but if you just want to create a colorful digital Christmas letter for your friends and family, Smilebox is a great way to do it.

Smilebox is a site that helps you create personalized ecards, slideshows, scrapbooks, invitations and more. You can add your own text, photos and music, so you'll have a truIy digital Christmas letter. It's easy, fun and free. Yes, free.

If you simply want to make a card, letter or invitation to send via email or post on Facebook, the service is absolutely free and your holiday letter will have some ads in it. If you don't want the ads, sign up for the free trial and you won't have ads in your final product and you'll also be able to download or print your letter so you can save it forever.

Spice Up Your Envelopes with Christmas Stamps and Labels

Make your Christmas letters look good on the outside, too
If you want to add a final flair to your Christmas letters, think about adding a personalized photo stamp to your envelopes. You can easily create personalized USPS stamps for the holidays with your own photos or images on sites such as Zazzle. Simply upload a photo, some children's art or (almost) whatever your heart desires and you'll be able to order custom stamps in minutes.

On Zazzle, you can also order a variety of Christmas stamps created by artists. Here are just a few of the holiday stamps you'll find there:

Set the Christmas Mood!

Every day in December, Amazon will be offering free Christmas music downloads

Add a Christmas Postmark

Get a North Pole or other fun postmark for your family Christmas letters

You can also add a little fun to your envelopes by getting a postmark from the North Pole. No kidding! All is takes is a little extra time. The North Pole, Alaska post office will stamp all of your envelopes with their special holiday cancellation for no additional charge (you still need to put regular postage on your envelopes). All you have to do is address and stamp your envelopes as you normally would. Then stick them all in a larger envelope and send them to:

North Pole Christmas Cancellation

c/o Postmaster

5400 Mail Trail

Fairbanks, AK 99709-9999

The North Pole elves (ok, postal employees) will then make sure your letters get sent to the appropriate addresses, just as if you'd dropped them at your local post office. But you can tell your friends they came from the North Pole!

To ensure delivery in time for Christmas, be sure to get your letters to the North Pole by December 15 at the very latest. Christmas is a very busy time at the North Pole.

If you'd prefer a postmark from another Christmas-themed city, such as a Santa postmark from Santa Claus, Indiana, here are some other cities you can use. Follow the instructions above to send your letter and get your Christmas postmark.

Nazareth, PA 18064

Santa, ID 83866

Santa Claus, IN 47579

Noel, MO 64854

The Perfect Christmas Letter - A musical parody of the traditional family letter

Christmas Letter Poll - Love 'em or hate 'em?

Thumbs up or thumbs down to Christmas letters?

See results

NPR Talks About Christmas Letters

lisadh was on NPR's Weekend Edition with Liane Hansen during the 2007 holiday season. To listen to the broadcast, visit Writing Letters is Holday Tradition on NPR.

Love 'em or hate 'em? - Give us your feedback on Christmas letters and this lens!

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    • profile image

      Music_Preservationist 9 years ago

      Saving a favorite Christmas letter becomes a family keepsake. I love heirlooms and history. If you do too, please take a look at my video on Christmas Classics. If you do stop by, please say hello. I'd love to hear from you.

    • ginnie lm profile image

      ginnie lm 9 years ago

      You have a terrific lens and website. 5 stars! Consider visiting my lens holiday decorating and entertaining and website Great Finds For You.

    • tplus profile image

      tplus 9 years ago

      Welcome to Get Ratings, Give Ratings! Gotta love those over done christmas letters! Great tips for letter writers, keep up the good work.

    • littleliz lm profile image

      littleliz lm 9 years ago

      An unusual idea for a lens.... but one which could be very helpful to most people! I am a bit behind with my Xmas preparation but I am inspired now to start my letters at least ^__^

    • profile image

      corebizstyle 9 years ago

      Man do I know some peopple who NEEDDD this bas! 5 stars :) PS. You're invited to check out my lens, too, and rate. Thanx!

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 9 years ago from USA

      You've got a really helpful lens here! Thank you for joining the Best Christmas Ever Group!

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 9 years ago from USA

      Great idea for a lens! 5 stars. Hope you'll visit my Retro Christmas lens.

    • Mark-Nehs profile image

      Mark-Nehs 9 years ago

      Great lens and very nicely presented. All the Best, Mark

    • profile image

      Doddee 9 years ago

      Very helpful blog and well presented.

    • ChristopherScot1 profile image

      ChristopherScot1 9 years ago

      Great lens and thanks for joining the group for A Day of Hope.

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Very useful information. 5*

    • frances lm profile image

      frances lm 9 years ago

      A useful list and well laid out. 5*

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 9 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you for lensrolling the The Wish Tree - A Wish for Peace for the Holidays into your Family Christmas Letters lens. Good advice and good new traditions for next year.

    • profile image

      lvcjmac 9 years ago

      I saw the link to your lens in the Get Ratings, Give Ratings! and I find it to be quite interesting. There's a lot of good information to weed through and it's really well written. This is quite a unique lens, but I gave you a 5 star rating and I'm hoping you can find the time to visit my lens MacDatingSite.

    • profile image

      PioneerMarketer 9 years ago

      What a great Lens! Top notch tips as well! What do you think of my lens, it is all about saving people when they travel, on average a family will save $800.00 per vacation using this package! This will help people visit family over the holidays as well as write them a great letter with your pionters!

      http://www.squidoo.com/cheaptraveling

    • profile image

      nancydodds1 8 years ago

      WOW! excellent lens. Nice information i got from your lens. My 5***** for you.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Nice lens, I think family Christmas letters are a great idea. 5***** for a great idea.

    • debnet profile image

      Debbie 8 years ago from England

      Great idea. This is a great family project for Christmas. I lensrolled it into my Christmas Cracker lens and also added it as a featured lens.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I have to confess that for the most part, I dislike Christmas letters.Some, however, are charming. Here's hoping the guilty parties will find your great lens and start sending letters that capture our attention.

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 8 years ago

      I think they're a great idea for keeping in touch.

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 8 years ago from Corona, CA

      Very nice and useful lens. Thanks for the Gandhi comment on one of my lenses. You and your lenses rock! Gotta go check out the rest.

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 8 years ago

      I love getting photos and letters from friends, but don't brag! Wonderful, useful suggestions here. I'm rolling it into my Christmas lens.

    • profile image

      nooranwer 8 years ago

      It's a very nice and useful lens.

      By the way thankyou for the feedback on my Prague guide lens.

      Please review my another lens http://www.squidoo.com/Merry-Christmas1

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      very nice lens..thanks for sharing some great tips..

      good job..5* from me..

    • profile image

      Bella21 8 years ago

      Thank you Lisa! I think this is a wonderful way to wish those you love a Merry Christmas... five stars and thanks for all the tips!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 8 years ago

      I never you that about the North Pole print. Would have loved that when my kids were small. Actually sounds like a great idea for adults to. Lovely lens.

    • KatherineClark profile image

      KatherineClark 8 years ago

      Very Nice Lens. As for Christmas Newsletters, I love them. It is great for getting caught up with all the family and friends news. Don't you hate getting a Card that says nothing but a signature. They need to save their stamp. Kathy

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 8 years ago from Canada

      I do enjoy the Christmas letters we receive although there are one or two that go a bit farther than they need to...so I try to avoid going into too much detail and I try not to boast although that is hard when you are trying to sum up what you've done in a year and you do not want to talk about what you have not done!

      My favorite tip on this page is, "Read it out loud." I tell my teenage boys to do that for every assignment. You can find so many errors that way.

      You have created a nice page with lots of ideas...I guess I had better quit Squidooing and get our newsletter written!

      Brenda

    • mdvaldosta lm profile image

      mdvaldosta lm 8 years ago

      Tis the season! Great lens!

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 8 years ago

      I like the idea and I have never received one! Maybe I should get the ball rolling.

      :)

    • jennrose lm profile image

      jennrose lm 8 years ago

      Great tips! I love good Christmas lenses. 5*

    • profile image

      RedRoseBoutique 8 years ago

      I have a neice that sends out a Christmas Letter, once upon a time, but she has 6 children now, and I just don't think she has the time. Great Lens. I wish everyone a great holiday season.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

      I guess I missed the North Pole Christmas Cancellation deadline for this but now that I know about it I will be sure to send them early next year.

      What a wonderful lens. Thank you for sharing.

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 8 years ago

      Great Christmas lens. Was looking for info on the subjec!

      Thanks for sharing.

      Rated 5 stars!

    • julcal profile image

      julcal 8 years ago

      These are great ideas! I either love them or hate them. I hate the bragging ones. *****

      ~Julie

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 7 years ago

      Very good tips about family Christmas letters. I don't like the bragging ones either but I guess people want to tell you about their victories and not their failures.

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 7 years ago from Chicago area

      I love it when the writer incorporates humor into a Christmas letter. One friend does this so well, year after year. 5* and a fave, plus I'm lensrolling this to squidoo.com/lovestamps

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Blessed, and featured, by a Christmas Angel (squidoo.com/angel-christmas)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      There is definitely an art to writing a Christmas letter. We get a few that are clearly in the "don't" category, and several that we look forward to each year. Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 7 years ago

      Great ideas! Each year, I try my best to give uniquely designed Christmas letters to my family & friends. It is pretty easy to find new designs. The difficult part is writing the message that you wish to share. Thanks for making this lens. It has helped me much. 5*

      Merry Christmas! Hope you could visit my lenses and be a fan of my fb page. Thanks again

    • profile image

      red46 7 years ago

      Great lens

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 7 years ago

      I would send rather a Christmas card. You are very creative. Thank you for this lens.

    • profile image

      J_Edwards 7 years ago

      Great tips! Makes me think of skipping the usual Christmas cards.

    • Sami4u LM profile image

      Sami4u LM 6 years ago

      Hi,

      I did not know about about the postal cancellations. Thanks Nice Christmas letters tips.

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      Wonderful Christmas letter ideas! Blessed by a Squidoo Angel!

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 6 years ago from Corona, CA

      I used to be annoyed at these letters, but have come to realize that if you save them, it makes for good family and friend history. Now if you send me a letter with a fruitcake....just kidding! Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      lovely lens, unique!!!!love it!

    • ggalea profile image

      Gilberto Galea 6 years ago from Willemstad

      Funny and relax!

      Enjoy read it.

      Thanks by share!

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 6 years ago

      Good lens!

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 6 years ago

      This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 6 years ago

      This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!

    • profile image

      sugunalinus 6 years ago

      Very nice. thanks for the ideas.

    • Othercatt profile image

      Othercatt 6 years ago

      This is the first year we're doing a Christmas letter. I had no clue how to write one. Thanks for all your great tips!

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 6 years ago

      A lovely lens. A forgotten skill, but not for long with these great tips.

    • nangaye-steve profile image

      Steve Charles 6 years ago

      The art of writing letters for any occasion is sadly in decline. Thanks for reminding us how important it still is.

    • profile image

      gods_grace_notes 6 years ago

      I have received family Christmas letters, but have never written one. Your lens has caused me to consider it... Merry Christmas!

    • profile image

      RobGrawberger 6 years ago

      Nice lens. We used to get a family letter from my wife's sister every year when she lived in the UK. Always looked forward to receiving them

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 6 years ago

      It's funny, we have a couple family members who write wonderful Christmas letters but then a couple others come across as being 'Me, Me, Me' letters and are not very enjoyable. Merry Christmas to you!

    • NanaPoppins LM profile image

      NanaPoppins LM 6 years ago

      Thank you for writing this! Of course Im reading it the day after Christmas and our letters were sent but now I have 365 days to follow this plan :) Happy New Year!

    • beerhead profile image

      beerhead 6 years ago

      Great job on this lens I love Christmas cards.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • LisaDH profile image
      Author

      LisaDH 6 years ago

      @VarietyWriter2: Thanks for the blessing!

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 5 years ago from United States

      <3 *~*~*angel dust*~*~*

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Lots of great ideas. I would suggest though that if someone is excited about something, that they allow the excitement to come through in their letter.

    • profile image

      gatorsquid 5 years ago

      nice lens!

    • profile image

      ThomasNKlotz 5 years ago

      McLoughlin Family Christmas Letter in July!!! It's hard to cram the events of a year into one letter in December, and I think that's why a lot of people don't even attempt it.

      Family Law Chicago

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 5 years ago

      I do enjoy the family Christmas letters, although I've found that I prefer the ones that are written as though we are visiting over the backyard fence, rather than those that basically inform. Some people really are very good at drawing the reader in an' making 'em wanna' hear more. I like those kinds of letters.

      I so enjoyed reading this page an' watching the video. That was very cute. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very nice lens with lots of the little things to accompany your holiday greetings.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Wonderful idea - it's always nice to see how folks are doing in their lives year to year. :)

    • Eddie20112011 profile image

      Eddie20112011 5 years ago

      very good lense! thx for the ideas!

    • daphnedangerlov1 profile image

      daphnedangerlov1 5 years ago

      I actually like getting them because even if it is over the top, it still means getting to hear what has been going on in my friends lives all around the world.

    • Showpup LM profile image

      Showpup LM 5 years ago

      My aunt sends these types of letters each year. I love them. Great ideas here and appreciate the templates.

    • heartycindypen profile image

      Hearty Cindy Penaranda 5 years ago from Ormoc City

      love your ideas

    • grannyann lm profile image

      Ann Scaling Tucker 5 years ago from Enid, OK

      Neat ideas. I loved your lens and it goes well with one of my lens. I put you on a sticky note on my site: http://www.squidoo.com/deployed.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      Neat lens! We've written seasonal letters for decades, and tried to keep them fresh and new as technology has changed. I am going to check out some of the template sits you mentioned to see if there are any that I can use. One thought...several years back I organized all our letters to that date into 8x10" photograph-type books. My adult kids loved them! Cheers!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 5 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I love Christmas letters -- to write myself, and those from friends. It's always fun for me to have an update on far-away-friends year. Which reminds me.... I'm running behind on writing my letter this year. May have to be a New Year's Letter. :) Wonderful suggestions and helpful hints presented here!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Wonderful ideas to unite family and friends through Christmas letters!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      So nice

    • Dragon 40 profile image

      Ken McVay 5 years ago from Nanaimo, British Columbia

      Nice lens, and not over-commercialized. Blessed.

    • profile image

      Edutopia 5 years ago

      Nothing grates the senses quite like a poorly done family Christmas letter. This lens needs more exposure so we can save many a family from themselves, haha.

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 5 years ago

      Great lens! Family Christmas letters can be fun but I am glad you mentioned the bragging, it is annoying. For anyone doing their family history, finding an old Christmas letter can bring a few tidbits they may have been looking for.

    • profile image

      MusicalKay28 5 years ago

      I normally like receiving cards, but when it comes to sending them out myself, I usually forget! These are great ideas though.

    • profile image

      peterandrew 5 years ago

      nice ideas for every one which are away from their family like me i am doing business of

      printer ink cartridges in another country away from my family, i want an idea how to write thanks for helping this great information for me

    • nyclittleitaly profile image

      nyclittleitaly 5 years ago

      Great information.

    • Susan300 profile image

      Susan300 5 years ago

      Great info. Makes those letters seem less daunting! :)

    • profile image

      oakstreet 5 years ago

      Oh, I have never thought of a family Christmas letter before until I watch your len and I 'like'' the video on Perfect Christmas letter. God bless you in 2012.

    • profile image

      polesport 5 years ago

      important to me is that they are on paper and not emails!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love your tips for writing better family Christmas letters, thanks for sharing!

    • puppyprints profile image

      puppyprints 4 years ago

      My cousin always does this for his family...he updates what everyone was up to the past year. I always look forward to getting it

    • ReviewNook profile image

      ReviewNook 4 years ago

      Around my house we affectionately refer to them as "brag" letters...lol...nice job on this lens!

    • latiptop profile image

      latiptop 4 years ago

      I love Christmas letter and will be sure to refer to this lens when I'm writing ours this year! Hope you don't mind me linking this to my Christ-Centered Christmas lens.:)

    • victoriuh profile image

      victoriuh 4 years ago

      Bookmarked this so I have it when I need it, if I remember it of course! Great info!

    • Celticep profile image

      Celticep 4 years ago

      I used to do this a while back but not written one for a while. Think I may try it again this year!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      This was a great lens to read right now as I contemplate some letters to send out to my friends and relatives. This is about the only time we hear from one another and your ideas are much appreciated. Featured on Great Gift Ideas. Hugs

    • profile image

      xtianfriborg13 4 years ago

      I was worried the letters I'll be sending this Christmas to my relatives would sound cliché and scripted, but no, thanks for the writing tips!

    • Donallphin profile image

      Donallphin 4 years ago

      I try to write a Christmas letter each year but find myself being a tad redundant and not so creative. Thanks for your tips. I'll put them to good use.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed "The Christmas Letter" video. Merry Christmas!

    • Lian8 profile image

      Lian8 4 years ago

      Very good tips especially about adding photos and images. Oh, and the don't brag to much part too. I think this year I'll try to create one and send it online.

    • MetkaL profile image

      MetkaL 4 years ago

      Very nice!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love to read them, I hate to write them!

    • profile image

      Thamisgith 4 years ago

      I think it's great to get some updates at Christmas. Blessed.

    • tuliprose lm profile image

      tuliprose lm 4 years ago

      Always better to read them than write them.

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Wishing you big success for 2013...

    • greentiger11 profile image

      greentiger11 4 years ago

      This would have been helpful for me a week ago! haha Sweet Lens either way. I can always bookmark it for next year. Happy Holidays!

    • profile image

      myspace9 4 years ago

      Happy holidays and have a wonderful day.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 2 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Fun video.

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