Here are some final letter-writing ideas for the year!
- Christmas. Of course, the biggie should be listed first! There are SO many things you could write about Christmas. I always like to tell my kids how I celebrate Christmas with my family. They usually give me a rundown of how they spend Christmas day in return! I'll tell them how we visit Brandon's grandparents (his mom's parents) on Christmas Eve, and visit with that side of the family. Then Christmas morning last year I made breakfast for my parents, my brother, and my grandparents. As a child, my grandparents always came to my house to eat breakfast (and open presents) with us, and it was so much fun playing hostess in my own home! For lunch we go to my grandparents' (my dad's parents) and see that side of the family, then go to Brandon's other grandparents' (his dad's parents) and see all the Joneses. And we tend to finish out the night having dinner or snacks at my aunt's house. I don't put this in my letters, but this is a tradition left over from my childhood- after lunch, the family would come by my house and show proper excitement over the present my brother and I received, then we'd have a nap (or a break to play with toys!) and go to my aunt's house to see my cousin's presents and have dinner there! Christmas as a married couple is VERY busy (I do include that part in my letters!) because of all the family that we see, but I love it all! And then there is the most important part of Christmas- Jesus! I like telling my kids about the Christmas church services we have, and ask them if they go to church on Christmas. I also ask them how they celebrate at the projects they attend- every child who has written to me about the holiday has mentioned a party at the center! I wish I could go to those parties! It would also be great if you can send some holiday photos of your family along with your letters- this year I plan on digging up some Christmas pictures from my childhood and putting them in some online letters! I know Tasya loves seeing pictures of me when I was little, and I hope the other kids do, too. : )
- New Year's. Will you celebrate New Year's in any special way? Do you stay up late to wait until midnight? New Year's celebrations can be a fun thing to write about- just use discretion when talking about the festivities (don't talk about alcohol, and you can probably avoid the subjects of Ryan Seacrest and the ball drop, because there's no way that's going to make sense to anyone who doesn't live here!) You can also talk about the topic of New Year's resolutions. Are you going to make any? You can even ask your child if there's anything he or she wants to accomplish in the new year. Just don't put too much pressure on them (or yourself.) You could say something like "the new year is a time of new beginnings. It is a good time to set goals for ourselves! Next year I am going to try to read my Bible more! What would you like to do in the new year?"
- Family. A lot of people spend more time with their families in December than any other time of year. This would be a fun time to write a little introduction to your family and send it to your sponsor child. You could make simple family trees with pictures, send family portraits (especially if you do photo Christmas cards) or even make a little photo album to send! If you want to make a photo album, you will need some card stock for a cover, a color printer for the pages inside, and a stapler! Simply make a little booklet full of printed pages- you could do a page for each member of your family, for instance. Be sure to leave a little room for the translation of your caption! Anything you make to send your sponsor child has to be less than a quarter of an inch thick, be a bendy paper product (for example, you couldn't send a children's board book) and fit in a 9x12 envelope. Don't forget to label whatever you send with your child's name and number, and your name and number as well!
- Snow. I am praying for a white Christmas! We haven't had very wintry weather yet this year, and we hardly had any snow last year. If you live in a region that experiences cold weather this time of year, you can talk about the weather in your letters. For most of us, talking about the weather means we don't have anything else to talk about. But telling your sponsor child about snow, ice and frost can be fun! You can talk about snowmen and snow angels, or even snowball fights. You can share how the frost on windows forms pretty patterns, and maybe send a picture or two of some impressive icicles if you have any this year! My city was hit with a big ice storm in 2009, which is the year before I started sponsoring children, but I have used some of the pictures I took during the ice storm in my letters to illustrate just what kind of crazy weather we can get here!
- Generosity and love. 'Tis the season for giving. While our sponsor kids don't have the same kind of resources we have, nor as many opportunities to give, we can still talk about generosity and giving with them. Share a Bible story about giving or kindness with them; some examples could be the story of the good Samaritan, or the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people after a boy gave up his lunch to share with others. If you have an older child who reads English, it's entirely possible to find a copy of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol that fits the requirements to send through the mail (a thin paperback copy would be perfect!) Tell your child that it's important to share what we have with others out of love. I was so happy and humbled when Victor recently wrote me a letter saying that he hopes to help other children as I do (through sponsorship and letter-writing) when he grows up and gets a job!