The Infamous Christmas Letter

By on December 7, 2015
Christmas Letter

I’ve always loved receiving annual Christmas letters from family and friends, especially the far-flung ones. In a pre-Facebook/Skype era, it was pretty much the only way to get caught up on news and major life events. Maybe it was just my particular circle of friends, but never did I receive a Christmas letter dripping with self-congratulatory family superlatives such as 14-year-old Johnny winning the Nobel Prize for medicine and such. Mostly, they were just slices of average family life in 20th century North America.

My Christmas letters consisted mainly of highlights of everyone’s year at school or work and memorable travels or events we had attended. Even in tough years, such as when my parents died, sad events were counterbalanced by happy episodes and activities. The hardest part was generally editing the letters down to a reasonable length.

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Years ago, I would routinely send out 20-30 annual letters via regular post, it was also easily two to three pages long and creatively written from the point of view of each family member. Over the years, relatives passed on, others just stopped responding or moved without a forwarding address and more and more, the internet also provided a chance for regular contact with far off family and friends. This year, only 5 printed copies were needed for a regular post.

The letter was also less than one page long; this past year was really tough.

It seemed that not a whole lot of positive things happened over the year: money was tighter than ever, business slowdowns and glitches delayed payments or greatly reduced profit margins from my husband’s business, both teens were struggling in school; there were family conflicts and substance abuse issues in the mix as well. All of these just seemed to accelerate right before Christmas, so no, I wasn’t really in the mood to write the letter. I persevered and ultimately the Robertson Family Chronicle, the last year 2014 edition did roll off the presses.

Although it seemed that this was one of those “dark night of the soul” times, we were constantly encouraged by the incredible support of friends, our faith community and our community social services providers. Events also helped my husband and I to grow closer to each other and build our communication skills with each other and with our teens. We also grew closer to God.

As part of my semi-regular prayer times, I’ve been devouring Richard Foster’s book on Prayer. Very briefly, the author describes 21 different themes, provides personal anecdotes and finishes with a short prayer. Inevitably, I’m drawn to a particular chapter that fits my circumstances by attempting to sense which one God seems to want me to read. The chapters on intercessory prayer and the prayer of the forsaken have been regular reads.

I’d like to say things are improving; situations seem to be moving two steps forward and one step back. I’m learning only God can change the people I pray for and so I pray for wisdom not to be a stumbling block to these people.  

I pray not for magical good luck in business, but for the courage to take the steps to grow my business, for self-discipline to do difficult things such as cold calls and grace to handle rejection. I pray a blessing on a family member who blames me for a relative’s drug addiction. I pray for quick thinking, focus, and gratitude for the job I have now.

I pray for the Holy Spirit to fill one son with Godly courage to step into his destiny and for godly discernment of right and wrong for my other son. Then I must do something that is simultaneously insanely easy and impossibly difficult… leaving the results up to God. I strongly suspect that the 2015 Robertson Chronicles will be a most exhilarating read!

Lori Robertson is a 50-something wife and mom to two teenagers, writer, and competitive adult figure skater. She also has over 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist and works part-time as an NCCP Level 1 figure skating coach.

 

 

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The Infamous Christmas Letter