Guest Guru: Laura Vanderkam – Why you should write your family Christmas letter…now

Why you should write your family Christmas letter…now

adapted from the book by Laura Vanderkam, 168 Hours: You HAve More Time Than You Think

It’s June. It’s hot outside. The kids are out of school and in the midst of a vacation that puts winter recess to shame. So why am I asking you to think about December as you’re cranking up the AC?

Maybe because doing so will make the rest of 2010 your best six months ever.

If you’re like many of us, you probably send out an end-of-year letter with your holiday cards informing friends and family of what your brood has been doing. This genre is known for its tedium (“John is still working at Acme Corp., John Jr. is now in fourth grade and is playing soccer, and Sarah is in 2nd grade and starting piano lessons…”)

That’s because most people’s lives are pretty tedious.

But picture, for a minute, a letter that’s a little different. What do you dream of being able to recount in the Christmas letter? Maybe your husband has finally started taking the community college classes he’s been talking about for years. You’ve quit that job that’s just paying the bills and launched your own business. You took that trip to Yellowstone as a family and went camping. You and your daughter are singing in a choir together. And, by the way, here are some great pictures you’ve taken now that you’ve rediscovered photography as a hobby.

Wouldn’t it be nice to write a letter like that?

So write it. Now. Imagine it’s December. Write down what you wish you could tell the world about how you and your family have spent the 168 hours we all have each week creating the lives you want. You don’t have to send this letter to anyone. But read it as often as you can. Because once you know what you’d like to do this year, you can start breaking these goals down into actionable steps, and then getting organized about putting them on the calendar. You can research that community college open house and make time on your schedule to show up. You can ask around to see who has camping equipment you can borrow, and start watching air fares. You can use the 20 minutes the carpool is late bringing your kids home from soccer practice to take a series of photos of your in-bloom June flowers, and bookmark a photography website to visit later.

When we think about what is important to us, we start thinking about ways to make these things happen. Writing your end-of-year letter in June is a great way to figure out what you’d like to be doing with your time. Think of it as an early Christmas gift – to yourself.

Laura Vanderkam is the author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Portfolio, May 2010) Buttoned Up will have a giveaway of the book on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 – come back to enter! Or if you want to purchase one now, click HERE.