Christmas Letter No-no’s

What information will you keep out of the annual family Christmas letter?

As I was working over the weekend on writing this year’s family Christmas letter I had a silly thought…

What if this year’s letter were more about the disappointments of the past year rather than the highlights? I don’t think I’ve ever read a Christmas letter like that!

Most of our annual letters include updates like the incredible GPA’s of our children and their ivy league college placement, new job opportunities that show we’re climbing the corporate ladder, athletic prowess that has lead us into Olympic-like shape, exotic vacation locations, new (second) homes, etc. Yes, most of our letters are about strutting our braggage rather than embracing our baggage.

Not that this would be our list (!!), but I thought of a few items that most likely never get included in annual Christmas letters but are pound for pound far more profound than the highlights we dig up from our memory banks to boast to one another. For example, what about our incredible sadness over unresolved conflict with extended family members, or lost jobs due to a down economy and the depression that accompanied the layoff, or the infidelity of a brother or son and the impact that is having on a devastated wife and young children, or the news that indeed the tumor is inoperable and months instead of years are left to live, or learning that the addiction has overtaken a loved one to the point of daily misery. These are just a few options; the pain in our world is far larger, deeper and more significant.

I’m trying to weave into our annual family letter a bit of the realism of our past year, but I must admit, I’m hard pressed to do so. What if the truth about our disappointments are misunderstood and then gets maligned when we get talked about around “that friend or family member’s” holiday table? Is it worth the risk to speak about pain, heartache and disappointment or will I stick instead with the safe, pretty, and brag-worthy stuff?

I’m not done with my final draft. Not sure where it will end up. But challenged all the more about the importance of truth-telling and the freedom that comes when the raw material of our lives is shared authentically and within the safety of loving relationships. My baggage may not be shared with all; but it certainly is known by the few who matter most. And it’s the ones who know me best and love me most that know how to read between the lines even if our annual Christmas letter is only filled with highlights, blessings and joys.

What about you – who knows the truth about your life and the year you’re about to wrap up in just a few weeks?


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

Steve is a graduate of Northwestern College (IA) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min.). His prior ministry includes serving on the pastoral staff at Grace Chapel (Lexington, MA) and as president of Vision New England. Since July 1, 2003 Steve has served as founder and president of Leadership Transformations, director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building, and adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Ministry department at Gordon-Conwell. He is the author of sixteen books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective),  Baker bestseller Becoming a Healthy Church, and Crafting a Rule of Life (IVP). He lives in the Boston area with his wife Ruth and is the proud father of two grown children, Rebekah and Nathan, daughter in-love Ashley, and papa to his beloved granddaughter, Brenna Lynn and twin grandsons, Aiden Joseph and Carson Stephen. “My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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