Did you send out Christmas cards this year? No worries. Send an end-of-the-year letter instead.

handwritten letters

Last January, a friend mailed me an end-of-the-year letter.

It wasn’t a particularly long letter. It wasn’t fancy or complex. Just a few sentences on a simple card. In her letter, she said:

“I’ve been watching all of your hard work this past year, especially with your writing and blogging. I see the articles you put out, all the progress you’ve made. I love reading about your son and the adventures you have. It’s beautiful to see. Keep up the good work.”

Her letter reached me at just the right moment.

With holiday cheer comes lots of responsibilities, like making sure The Elf finds a fun new spot each day to watch over my son, buying gifts and wrapping them without being discovered, and designing a new Christmas card. And don’t forget the Advent calendar. On top that, lots of surgery gets done in November and December when folks have already met their deductible.

So something has to give. The Elf on the Shelf at our house doesn’t do crazy stunts. The Advent calendar was something I had to fill, so I missed a few days. Note to self, find the one pre-loaded with tiny Legos next year. I had a staffer at my office who helped me with part of the wrapping. I didn’t get Christmas cards done this year… Must admit, I’ve sent New Years and even Valentine’s cards in past years.

But I always feel a little guilty when I can’t get it all done. When I read her letter, I realized, “You know what? She’s right! I am making progress! I don’t need to be so critical of myself. I am doing my best… and my best is OK.”

I kept that letter for a long time. It really meant a lot to me.

Sometimes, it’s the simplest gifts and messages that make the biggest difference, especially when they arrive unexpectedly and serendipitously at “just the right moment.”

If you’d like to make a significant difference in someone’s life this New Year, take a cue from my friend and send an “end of the year” letter to someone you care about.
It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t need to become an “all day” project. All it takes is a pen, some paper, and a few minutes of your time.

Here’s a sample letter to help get the words flowing…

Dear [name],

I’m writing to your from [describe your environment / setting].

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on that time that we [describe a cherished memory] and so of course, you popped into my mind.

I just want you to know how much I value your [describe a trait or quality] and how proud I am when I see you [describe an activity].

You really are making a difference in your [home / community]. Even if you can’t quite see the difference you’re making, please know that other people do see it and feel it. You enhance the world, just by being you. I am honored to call you a friend.

Next year, I hope that we can [describe something you’d love to do together]. Let’s set a date!

Cheering you for a beautiful 2015 and wishing you a wonderful New Year.

Until we chat again…

[your name here]

Send off your note in the mail, or hand-deliver it along with a gift, or mysteriously tuck it in someone’s coat pocket or on his or her desk at work. Know that, with one simple letter, you will truly change someone’s day.

This letter-writing activity can also be a beautiful “alternative” to sending out holiday cards. If you can’t manage an armful of cards for the postman, why not write “end-of-the-year” letters for a handful of treasured friends? It could be a much more peaceful, meaningful way to handle your holiday correspondence, and you’ll certainly be making a deeper impact on each person you choose to write to.

For even more letter-writing inspiration, check out my friend Alexandra’s free booklet, One Letter Today, which is filled with lots of inspiring writing tips, as well as this beautiful project: The World Needs More Love Letters. Last but not least, stock up on gorgeous stationery supplies from Sugar Paper, Papyrus, or check out fun cards at ShannaLee, a lovely boutique in downtown Fargo.

Happy New Year… and happy writing!

~ Dr. Sue

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