MyStoryYourStory: Dear friends and loved ones, another year …

Christmas letters are like love letters, historical documents and medical records all rolled into one. I look forward to receiving Christmas letters for these reasons and then some.

From holly jolly salutations to stay-in-touch closings, they are riddled with sentiment seldom relayed in person. The milestones and other facts registered within bring us up to date on all the comings and goings of senders, their families and friends.

Christmas letters also are like an afternoon chat with a dear friend: who married, gave birth, started school, graduated, moved to town, fell and broke something, had surgery, entered the nursing home and died.

Often graceful and beautiful displays of family life, these holiday greetings are painstakingly crafted. These jottings sojourn from way back in January throughout the entire year.

In some ways, Christmas letters chant innate needs to stay connected, not in short coded text or chirpy calls, but rather deliberately detailed exhortations of how goes life.

Sending waves of goodwill, they are stunning displays of the power of communication, producing deeply satisfying sighs and feelings of rest assurance rarely found elsewhere.

Arriving in the dead of winter, they enliven spirits and change the tenor of the day from edgy despair to subtle promise.

Not penned with hard-earned wisdom but rather with earnestness, enlivening withering paths.

Striding through lives of parents, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even fur children, these yuletide registers become a study of ups and downs, ins and outs, near and far.

Honoring friendships, connections and our very existence in this dangerously shallow world, holiday letters are a warm hug, a broad smile, a gentle kiss or a soft touch.

Mailed the old-fashioned way, in stamped envelopes and carried to mailboxes on crunching snow beneath, these annual greetings create an arch of renewed affiliation and affection of the highest kind.

Cleansed by the news herein, we feel washed, and therefore sanctified by this liturgy proclaiming another year has come and gone.

What's included and excluded in the granite words inscribed on ivory paper with mistletoe border foretells of a hope we embody for brighter days ahead: more life, improved health, good weather, higher yield, lighter load, safe journey and less turbulence, that's for certain.

As tears of joy and sadness well beneath tired brows, we read the news reported with mixed emotions and recall, relive and rejoice.

Compiled with stunning sentiment, we delicately hold these letters, like a bouquet of roses or urn of ashes.

We read between the lines, straining for a rebirth that only Christmas can offer.

I love Christmas letters for all of these reasons and then some.

2011 © Copyright Paula Damon.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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