How many of us play the guessing game once the holidays are upon us: When did Dad make Sue’s dollhouse? Were the McCay’s here two years ago or five? Just how tall was our tallest tree? The list could go on and on.
We do it at our house each and every year…and I regret that I did not begin a Christmas Journal to keep my memory honest. How delightful it can be to share the best moments from year to year through journals, cards and Christmas letters. Many of us are keeping track of such events online with blogs and personalized sites. But as the years go by, having a card, journal or letter you can hold in your hands or display as a keepsake in your home seems a wonderful way to share memories.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned. But whether you work at your computer or take pen in hand to be the holiday scribe, here are some lovely suggested desks to inspire your writing and other tips for holiday writing in journals, on cards, and in holiday letters.
- A Lady-Like Desk: Take pause during the holiday festivities to sit at a pretty cherry writing desk like this.
One might imagine Jane Austen penning one of her romantic novels on its wood surface. There are some things that just shouldn’t be rushed…such as writing to loved ones near and far. But in keeping with our lifestyle (certainly not Jane’s) there is a drop-down keyboard drawer. However, its style remains traditional with the graceful turn of the legs and the antique finish of the hardware. Another special feature: The desk has a finished back, so it can float in a room, giving a lot of flexibility. So brew a cup or tea and begin writing some letters in what is more a moment of delight than a chore.
- Hints on Keeping a Journal: There are many styles on the market, such as Family Christmas Journal Cherished Memories, and you won’t have trouble selecting one that suits your taste. They come in a variety of prices, but most are very affordable. I especially like the ones created by Paperblanks. This imaginative company searches museum collections to recreate beautiful hand-tooled leathers, for example. But as reproductions, they are very affordable.
You might want to create your own journal. Scrapbooks are good place to start with this endeavor. Collect some of the best images from the cards you receive for a collage, add gift tags, scraps of notes, and any thing that strikes your personal fancy to decorate the cover or the pages.
Edit what you include. Having made my living as an editor, I know the value of not including every word and thought. You might want to take notes during the holidays on your laptop and then on that winter January night look back on what made this holiday most special. It can be a very personal moment that years from now will mean so much. Unless you do it in close proximity to the holiday, you’ll lose the essence of the holiday.
- Great Working Space. Try this Architectural Writing Desk. Not surprisingly, this artistic desk has a drop-down computer space. It’s modern, unique, and a great surface to spread out your cards or journal materials.
Writing cards may seem a bit old-fashioned in this environment. But Christmas is the time for traditions, no matter how contemporary the setting. You might want to put a tiny tree or a base with Christmas greens on the corner of the desk to bring that special seasonal inspiration.
Thoughts on Christmas Cards: I adore selecting my cards, and this year I ordered online from the Tate Gallery in London. They were not expensive and arrived three days after the order. The writing goes on for several days (weeks sometimes) as I always send to faraway friends first. And these days, I use cards particularly to keep in touch with those I do not communicate with or see regularly. I leave my cards in a basket on the desk, and when I have a few quiet moments, write several at one sitting.
I don’t mind getting emails, but personally, the holiday card is still special. I look forward to the artwork of my friend Gil, who travels the world and shares a watercolor from one of his travels each year. And I save the kid cards–as well as the dog ones. They are delightful to see year after year. The cards we choose say a lot about ourselves, which is part of the joy of receiving them.
- COUNTRY HOUSE TRADITIONAL This country house desk has tradition in every carved surface. Its polished wood surface is an inspiration to write–and this time of year it’s usually From Our House to Yours.
Yes, you can enter your thoughts on your laptop and send them speeding instantly around the world. But you can also take advantage of the mood this beautiful desk inspires and compose your letter, print it out, and send it the old-fashioned way. This desk commands the room with an abundance of dignity, standing firmly on the past with its ball-and-claw feet.
Christmas Letters have come into some ridicule. Yes, people do sometimes write silly things–or even things that might really be too personal for mass distribution. We all want news, especially from friends and family we don’t get to see that often. But we can be spared some of the nitty-gritty of daily lives. We have one set of friends who travel extensively. We enjoy climbing that mountain with them–or trying deep-sea fishing for the first time. So, again edit your letter for what it is supposed to do; unite you in prose with people who are meaningful in your lives.
Our friend in Japan sends us a DVD every year. What fun. Of course, Toshi is a professional photographer; so much of the DVD is truly remarkable. But Toshi is also an amateur singer and seeing him with his chorus singing American Christmas songs in the heart of Japan is just what it should be–holiday togetherness.
In my recent book My First Best Friend, I include a story of two women, Ann and Virginia, now in their 70’s, who have had the comfort of years in their Christmas letters, still going. Here are several quotes:
In early December, Ann sits in her study…and faithfully begins writing her Christmas letter…
Ann enjoys calls and emails from Virginia, but she always looks for that Christmas letter from the farm. It’s a simple typewritten page–no pictures of garlands or sprigs of holly. ‘Here it is, December again, and time to send the annual letter.’
Things small, personal, and heartfelt–the comforts of years and the blessings of friendship for Christmases and all the years.