I started a new Christmas tradition in my family by writing a letter to my child.
Life moves at lightning speed, and each year I want to take the time to stop, reflect and remember all of my child’s happy moments full of fun, love and laughter by writing about them in a letter.
I must admit, the whole process intimidated me at first.
How am I supposed to cram a whole year’s worth of stuff into a single letter? I don’t have time to write pages and pages! What should I focus on if I can’t write about everything?
I stopped freaking out when I thought – KISS. Keep It Super Simple.
Focus on the cake and worry about the frosting and sprinkles later. If all I end up with is cake, it will still be awesome and better than nothing. (That just popped into my head. I’ve never thought of comparing a letter to a cake before… It must be because I haven’t eaten dinner yet… even though it’s almost 8:30 p.m.!)
So I came up with the basic ingredients for a letter to a child:
- Tell them that you love them and that your love is unconditional.
Children can never hear “I love you” too many times. They also need to know that your love doesn’t have to be earned and is never based on anything they do or not do.
- Share their biggest achievements.
Talk about their big moments, major progress made, awards, first-time accomplishments, etc.
- Point out their internal qualities that make you proud.
We often talk about how proud we are of a child’s physical accomplishments in sports, dance or music but we must never forget about their internal accomplishments, which are far more important. Are they hardworking, honest, kind, helpful, thoughtful, thankful, etc.? Give examples of when you saw them exhibiting the internal qualities you discuss.
- Mention some of their favorite things.
Children’s tastes and interests can change from year to year. Mention some of their favorite hobbies, sports, activities, books, music, etc. They’ll love reading about them years later.
- Share your hopes for their future.
Do you hope they’ll always have a love for learning and the outdoors? What life lessons do you hope they’ll always remember to follow? Your hopes may change depending on your child’s age and personal experiences. For a teenager, it may be your hope that he or she will always be a first rate version of himself or herself rather than a second rate version of someone else.
Once I narrowed down what to write about, I began typing up the letter in Microsoft Word so I could better compose my thoughts. After I finished it, that’s when I wrote out the entire letter on pretty decorative paper. It’s always more special to read a handwritten letter than typed print.
Until my son becomes old enough to read my letters himself, I will read them out loud to him on Christmas Day. I will also keep his letters in a safe place and give them back to him all at once when he becomes an adult, either in a decorative box or bound together in a book!
Besides Christmas, birthdays are the perfect time to start the annual tradition of writing a letter to your child. You’ll be giving them something meaningful they will always treasure each and every time they read and re-read your heartfelt letters.
Your children need your presence more than your presents. – Jesse Jackson