Christmas Letters

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, trying to figure out what to include in my annual Christmas letter to family and friends. Please note, I’m calling it a Christmas letter and the top of the page usually features a Christmas tree, but what I actually wish people is “Happy Holidays.” When I send out greetings at this time of year, they are going to folks of all faiths.

I have to be honest, I don’t always get one written in time to mail before Christmas. Sometimes it has been an after-New-Year’s letter. Some years I’ve never gotten around to writing it at all. But since I enjoy receiving newsy once-a-year updates from folks I don’t often see in person, this is one tradition I try to follow as the holiday season gets under way.

Once upon a time, notes in Christmas cards were just that. They were handwritten on the card itself. Sometimes there would be a snapshot enclosed, if the card itself wasn’t a photograph of the family or the children in that family. If there was a lot to report, a handwritten letter might be folded inside the card. Somewhere along the line, probably about the time that word processors became cheap enough for everyone to own one, handwritten turned into printed. The advantage was that the letter could include more news. The downside was that a printout will never feel as personal as reading what someone has written by setting pen to paper. On the other hand, type is far easier to interpret than some people’s handwriting!

I always enjoy reading about other peoples kids and grandkids, their travels during the previous year, their accomplishments at work or in retirement. Sometimes there is sad news to share, but that, too, is something I’m glad to know about. Photos printed alongside the text are always a delight to see.

Unfortunately, deciding what to include in the Christmas letter I write isn’t easy. I look back on what I’ve written in previous years and what I’ve done in the one just past isn’t usually very different. We still live in the same place. I wrote books. There has usually been at least one new book out in the preceding year, but I don’t want this letter to come across as an exercise in self-promotion. Husband made jigsaw-puzzle tables. I went to one or more mystery conferences. And that’s about it. Since we chose not to have children, there are no kids or grandkids to report on. The cat news the last few years has been a downer—we’ve lost one elderly cat each of the last three years. I have Shadow to write about this time around, but even that is sad, since she only came to us because she lost both of her original people. The only other news is that our email address has changed.

Instead of actually writing this year’s Christmas letter, I’m sitting here writing about writing it. Can you say procrastinate?

How about you, dear readers? Do you write Christmas letters? Do you send holiday greetings at all? Do you enjoy receiving cards with notes or letters included? How about e-cards? Love them or hate them? Inquiring minds want to know.

With the June 2019 publication of Clause & Effect, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are and and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.


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4 Responses to Christmas Letters

  1. bethc2015 says:

    I enjoy the annual holiday letters I receive.They bring back fond memories from the past as well as updates about the present. Many of them are kept over the years. It is hard to decide what to put in a Christmas letter since what we write goes to people with different connections to our lives. We tend to be positive at this time of year and not focus on the bad things that may have happened or the struggles we have faced. Those closest to us know these already Your post prompted me to start what I had planned on doing today but have procrastinated – the first draft of our Christmas letter.

  2. kaitlynkathy says:

    Good for you, Beth. Mine is written, includes a photo of Shadow, and has room at the bottom of the page to add a personal, handwritten note. Now I just have to do address labels, buy stamps, and actually add those notes.

  3. Crystal Lyn Toller says:

    I wanted to thank you for the post about Lea’s books on Kobo. I downloaded the app to my laptop and got her books because of that post so thank you. I usually send Christmas cards every year. Since my son started 1st grade and learned how to write we sign them together. I address them the weekend of Thanksgiving and usually the first weekend in December he and I sign them and send them out then. I don’t do a letter usually. I did a letter for one card for a relative who is in her 80s and has some dementia because she wrote me in October and life has gotten in the way and wanted to write her back so will include it in her card. I also put a handwritten note in my cousins because she had us for Thanksgiving and wanted to thank her because we had a great time. Love this blog and honestly, its the one blog I keep up with it. Thank all of you for this blog.

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