12 November

A bit drafty

It’s time to draft your Christmas letter to get it into the mail at the end of the month. Start with the basic structure:

  • What are your main stories? (If tossing up between something important (like the reason you decided to move house), and something amusing (like what happened when you packed confetti in the same box as the clockwork toys), choose amusing.)
  • Will you list the tales in chronological order or do they flow better some other way?[1]
  • Which are the must-have photos?
  • If any whimsical, light-hearted phrases pop into mind, jot them down as you go.
  • Then knock the outline into sentences and paragraphs and remember to keep it under two pages (even with photos), to make it entertaining and keep it modest.

The letter doesn’t have to dance with merriment in this first draft[2] but do ensure it’s coherent.

Letter opener.

I emailed my nephew Jack to ask him what he’d like for Christmas and he sent me a link to some board shorts he wants for the New Caledonia beaches.

“When exactly are you going?” I asked.

“I haven’t heard the dates,” he said, “but Babcia said she made sure it was in the school holidays.”

Late December or early January, then. I won’t count them into my New Year plans.[3]

[1] My cousin Caroline’s last letter went in reverse order: she started with photos of a new hayshed decorated with balloons and streamers, followed it with the dramatic tale of how the old one burnt down, then told us about the rats that dragged oily rags under a faulty popcorn maker, and ended up with the fortuitous visit of her insurance agent two weeks before that who got all her policies in tip-top order. (The only detail she omitted was why she had a popcorn maker in a hayshed.)

[2] Although some people can’t help it: Todd once sent me a packing list before we took our two families off to spend a week at his ski lodge and it was hilarious.

[3] There are some people you can never count in for your NYE plans. Uncle Geoff was a (very) early riser who got hours of farm work done before most of us sat down to breakfast so he tended to nod off in front of the television at about eight thirty each night. He would join in the early NYE festivities each year but, at about nine o’clock, he’d say, “I guess the new year can see itself in without me,“ and shuffle off to bed.

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