portrait taken in Tyler 2019

One of our Family’s Favorite Holiday Traditions

decorated treeOur family has been sending out Christmas letters for 35 years years now. Although I (Jennifer) do the actual writing, we all work together to determine which stories to put in the letter, take family photos we include with the letter, and get the letters ready to mail (via our annual Christmas card assembly line)

What’s more, every December, Doug reads all our old family Christmas letters aloud to me and the children, one year per night (scroll down to read them online or order the book). We love to reminisce in this way. All the funny anecdotes trigger all sorts of fond memories which are in turn relived and discussed at length.

This has been a great way for our younger children to learn the family history. It helps them see their older siblings in a whole new light and cements into their hearts and minds stories of God’s provision and watch-care over our family through the years.

Tips for Writing Your Own Christmas Letter

Interested in beginning this tradition yourself? Check out this post for how-to instructions.

How to Write a Christmas Letter People Want to Read

The post contains a collection of free printable seasonal stationery, as well as samples and templates for different kinds of Christmas letters or annual updates. These include:

Of course, the pattern you use doesn’t matter — the important thing is just to write something every year. Do this consistently, and before you know it, you’ll have a detailed family history, just like we do.

The Flanders Family Website: Helping You Build a Happy Home

Past Flanders Family Christmas Letters

To read our family’s past updates, simply click on the year you wish to view. They’ll tell you way more about our crew than you’ll ever need to know:

Keep Reading our Christmas Letters Offline

As our family grew, my reasons for writing our annual Christmas letters changed. I found myself writing not so much to inform, but to remember. Although I continued to share what I’d written with our family and friends, I was really writing for myself.

The letters allowed me to freeze those moments in time that I wished never to forget–significant milestones, everyday graces, hard-learned lessons, crazy mistakes, funny remarks. I wrote down the things that made me think or smile or laugh or cry, the things I wanted to treasure in my heart and to ponder for years to come.

It was a subtle shift, really, but it elicited an unexpected response. This willingness to share our foibles, to laugh at ourselves, to be sincerely vulnerable, allowed others to connect with us in a way that a brag sheet could never do. I guess it made our family more real and more accessible, because we began to get requests for extra copies of our updates.

Never mind that most of our letters were four pages long–people were passing them around the dinner table, forwarding them to friends, saving them in three-ring binders. I had one friend tell me that her husband insisted on reading the entire thing aloud at his office party one Christmas. We even received postcards from complete strangers, asking to be put on our mailing list.

It was really bizarre.

But it explains why, when I decided to publish our first twenty-five Flanders Family Christmas letters in a book to give our kids and grandkids, my husband urged me to make copies available to people outside our family, as well. Interested? You can follow this link to order your copy today. 🙂

Glad Tidings: The First 25 Years of Flanders Family Christmas Letters


  1. I hope we’ll get to read your letters for 2019 and 2020 at some point. I find them so enjoyable. Your family does so many interesting things.
    God bless.

    1. Finally got them posted, Jennifer, shortly before Christmas. So now you can get all caught up on 2019, 2020, AND 2021! 😊

  2. Thank you for your Big Book of Christmas Printables! This is a wonderful collection of fun things that over the years I had thought of, but, never, ever put into practice. It is a great gift idea. Please, keep up the good work. I am across this at a low point in my life. My husband of 28 years has cancer. He is unable to receive conventional medical treatment, so, we use prayer and herbs. I have grown so much in my testimony of my Faith and Endurance. Seeing this gift from you, has renewed my spirit to resist defeat. You just never know when and where the Holy spirit will find you. Again, thank you!!!

    1. I’m glad you like the book, Susan, but sorry to hear about your husband’s cancer diagnosis. Sending up prayers on your behalf this evening!

    1. Sorry, Jeaneen. I’m afraid I’ve been a little slow about posting that one, but as it happens, I’d just finished putting it online last night. You’ll find it here — along with lots of our favorite family photos from the past 12 months. Enjoy!

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