The holiday letter has traditionally been a way of letting extended family and friends know what’s going on in your life, and the lives of your immediate family. The key to a well-written holiday letter is maintaining a delicate dance between truth and embellishment, reality and aspiration.
Achieving this balance is a tricky task—regardless of your circumstances. But it becomes even more difficult if you’re responsible for taking care of an ailing loved one.
How do you tell friends and family about mom’s declining health? Do you have to adopt a false, ‘Positive Polly’ attitude for the sake of appearing calm and in control? What do you say to family members who you feel have abandoned you?
Make your own rules for the holiday
The first step: stop, take a deep breath, and decide whether or not you really want to write a holiday letter.
Even if your yearly missive has been a fixture of the family festivities, you shouldn’t feel as though you have to keep doing it just because it’s a “tradition.”
“The holidays are a great time to stop and reflect on life,” says Cindy Laverty, caregiver coach, radio talk show host, and author. “The year I chose not to get caught up in all the hype, everything changed for me. I made the rules.”
Make sure you’re writing your letter for the right reasons—to update family and friends, to reminisce about the events of the past year, and to re-connect with people you may have fallen out of touch with.
What story do you want to tell?
Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), Laverty says you should ask yourself one question: “What would I write about my life if this was the last holiday that I would ever have with my loved one?”
Use this question as a starting off point to determine the purpose of the letter, and do some brainstorming and outlining to clarify your topics and tone before you begin writing.
Next: 8 letter writing DOs and DON’ts
8 Rules for Writing a Holiday Letter While Caregiving originally appeared on AgingCare.com.