Keeping Family Close from Far Away: The Christmas Book

The Christmas Book

My oldest sister started The Christmas Book in 2001. Our family had always been extremely tight knit, probably even more than we would have been by default because we moved around so much. We were beginning to grow up – going to college, graduating, getting jobs, getting married, and starting our own families. My sister proposed that, every Christmas, we each send something that she could compile in a family book, so that – no matter how far away we were – we could share a piece of our lives, keeping family close during the holiday season in spite of physical distance.

Twelve years later, the Christmas book is still going strong – and, this year, six-year-old Emma started pulling out old volumes. She loves reading about her aunts and uncles and cousins over the years, and she finds my submission one year of some of my favorite kid quotes from when she was younger particularly amusing!

There are no rules about what you can submit. We have poems, songs, drawings, essays, memories, family histories, and old photos, letters, and journal entries. It’s a chance to share something that might not come up at a family gathering – especially when geography and the continued absence of teleportation (despite my constant requests for someone to please, please, please invent it) make family gatherings few and far between.

How do you keep in touch with family and friends from far away?


  1. says

    This is Such a lovely idea, although my mum lives next door, gary’s family are in Ireland. I wonder if they’d be up for it? Have a lovely 2013!

  2. says

    What a sweet idea! Thank goodness for Skype and Facetime. We use those weekly. But it is sad to be apart from loved ones. I, too, am waiting on that teleportation device!

  3. Tara says

    HOw exactly does your sis do it? Does she makes copies and send them to everyone or scan tham and send the files to everyone (having every family print them out individually)? Does she give you a binder? Do you have your own… one for each year? Thanks in advance for your reply!

    • says

      We all send her electronic copies of our submissions, she prints them out, and sends them out in binders. We each have our own copy. Each binder lasts about three years – the years we don’t get a new binder she sends us our pages tied together with ribbon. She changes the page color every year so it’s easy to see where one year ends and the next starts in the binders. It’s a big project!

  4. says

    Oooh, I love this idea!:) We also have family in several countries, an this would be such a great way to save memories of them that the kids can read the whole year. I was going to ask how you did it, when I saw you answered in the above comment:).

    • says

      It’s also really fun when the in-laws get in on the fun. They don’t always, but when they do it’s a great way to learn a little bit more about them!

  5. Lorri Mason says

    This is precious!!! I wish I had a sample of your work. Is this mostly memories about family from childhood memories or both family grew up with and family memories now to share? Love this!!!
    Thank you!!!

    • says

      It’s a little bit of everything! We have kid quotes (quotes of fun things our kids say), drawings from grandkids, childhood memories, old journal entries, poems, short stories, old family photos, the description of a day in our lives as they currently stand – everyone contributes something different every year, and you never know what it’s going to look like. It’s always a lot of fun to read through – my seven-year-old spends hours poring over the copies from previous years.


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