Our family sat around the dinner table together and Paul read the letter.

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The letter.

Ever since our kids were born we’ve put out a family Christmas letter to send to family and friends. We usually run it by the kids first, to make sure they’re okay with the stories, and then Paul writes the ending …

This year I told the kids that I have all of our annual Christmas letter and pictures stored in their “memory books” – for Elliot 20 years worth, Garrett 18, and for Abby 16 years of letters and annual Christmas pictures.

Each year, our family Christmas letters and holiday photos are stored in each kid’s memory binder for “that year.”

Paul’s talented writing, reality mixed with seriousness and humor, this time, as the letter was read around the table, there wasn’t a dry eye when we got to the end …

Like you, we’re eager for the holidays, a much-needed respite. I’m reminded of the time when wee Abby, blanket in hand, asked, “Now which corner is Christmas around?” Christmas, for all our church talk, is not about Christmas. Not as a nation anyway. Easter is our real Christmas, our timeless and under-recognized hope. It’s about this stalwart, cockled and pock-marked mini-civilization called family, the source of so much joy and unintended sorrow. During a recent family getaway, staring up at our 3 children who were once so short, pudgy and to whom my words once carried the aura of an oracle, I realized that we 1+3 streams that looked like one have never been so. There were shoals, shelves and sandbars down there quietly dividing since their first natal cry, banks waiting to be born. Sandy and I caught glimpses of their outline but flinched away, because in witnessing them we would be forced to bare their weight and future meaning. Few souls are that accommodating.

We 1+3 maturing streams, born from the same living headwater, are diverging, natural and painful as thirst. Oh, that it would not be so. We will bend back upon one another, sometimes playfully, spilling, feeding and taking during this next season of life, come what may. Still we diverge, bank upon widening bank, birth pains of a different kind, and true to a will wiser than our own. -Paul Coughlin 2012 letter

The ending.

The end to another year.

Every year, another chapter’s been added to our family’s story.

(family pic 2006 in each binder)

Since many are starting to think ahead to the New Year and organization (I am! I am!), I’ll leave you with this post (How to Make Kid Memory Binders), a very cool way to store your family memories using my binder method.

The binder method is easy and efficient.

And hopefully one day they’ll be able to share the history and words of their Dad, with their precious families.

How do you save or store your family’s Christmas pictures or letters each year?

Simple Mom has a helpful post on what to do with old cards and letters.
Our Blue Front Door has a post on how to organize them using book rings.
Family Ever After blog organizes all holiday cards in a book each year.