I’ve always loved words… hearing them, reading them, knowing them. I’ve never considered myself a writer, but I’ve always loved to write. When we were first married, I always wrote a Christmas letter. It’s what my mom did. However, there wasn’t much left to write. We worked and lived. (How I wish I could have enjoyed the simplicity of it then.) I quit writing Christmas letters. We still sent cards, but there wasn’t much to tell.
Then Christmas 2011 approached… it was Littles’ due date. I made the executive decision to wait until she was born and we had her birth announcements and just sent those. She arrived, I had the birth announcements in hand, and life unraveled. They sat for 11 months. There were 125 announcements, perfect as our little girl. I wanted to send them, but who sends a year old birth announcement. Thus began a Christmas letter. I wanted to give an explanation of my delay in sending and share our updates. I started it while I was in the nursing mother’s room at work. For the year that room housed most of my most peaceful moments. It was a safe place for me. I did something I am good at and love to do… nourishing others.
I almost didn’t send it. As I read the final draft to my husband aloud, tears streamed down my face. What was I doing telling the truth about what an awful year it had been? He said, “These people love us. Nothing is going to change that.” I sealed each one: letter, birth announcement, and Christmas card.
We don’t usually get an outpouring of responses from our Christmas cards, but 2012 was different. Cards came in the mail. Letters from women who I never knew faced the same challenges. Facebook messages popped up unexpectedly. People called. The most poignant moment for me was at my husband’s work holiday party. He works in professional sports and (as one might expect) with a lot of men. One of his co-workers found me at the party and pulled me aside to tell me what a beautiful writer I was. He said, “You should have a column in the paper. People need to hear your words.” He went on to say how he wished he had known and could have helped, even if it was just babysitting the kids. I was humbled and honored.
The following year, I felt like the need to have an encore, if only to let people know we had made a huge improvement from the prior year. The words came easily and I was inspired by the card we had chosen.
Over the summer I met a blogger who became a friend. She had no idea about the Christmas letters, but encouraged me to start writing and sharing my story. I thought about it a long time. It is a commitment of time, but she said it would be therapeutic too, which is true. I thought about my husband’s co-worker and the newspaper column. Thus began, The Truth of Ruth.
I thought that writing the 2014 letter would be so much easier, but it pretty much gave me anxiety (you can read it here).
I took a new approach in 2015, the same one I’ve been using to write my self-evaluation at work for years (shh… don’t tell my boss). I set a timer for two hours and am done after the time is up. My husband offered his editorial expertise (he is a Senior Vice President of Communication and does like it when I call him Mr. Vice President… kidding.)