Sprucing up the Family Christmas Letter
Every holiday season, I write not one, but two (and occasionally even three) family Christmas letters. First, there's my own family's Christmas letter. Rather than writing a laundry list of the previous year's accomplishments and activities, I try to write something with a little devotional value. When I'm finished with that, my mother-in-law gives me her Christmas letter to edit (read: "ghostwrite") and format. Some years, I've even been asked to edit a third letter for my sister-in-law.
With so many Christmas letters sent to many of the same people, I have to work hard to make them look both distinctive and distinct from each other. Thankfully, I have Accordance as a resource to mine.
First, I use Accordance as you might expect: as a biblical resource. I'll often begin these letters with a Bible verse, and as you might imagine, after a decade or so of Christmas letters I've already used most of the obvious Christmas story verses. A few simple word searches in a Search window or Search All window can help me find appropriate verses to use.
I also use Accordance as a visual resource. To dress up these letters, I'll include images of some kind: either family photographs or artistic depictions of the Christmas story. For the latter, I usually turn to the Bible Art module included in every level of the Library collection. This year I used an image showing an adolescent Mary cradling the baby Jesus for my own family's Christmas letter.
My mother-in-law's letter was a little tougher. Because much of her time has been occupied with sorting through her late husband's many tools and inventions, she wanted me to write something revolving around tools. How, I wondered, would I write a Christmas letter with a tool theme?
Then I remembered that the Bible Lands PhotoGuide includes some photos of a reconstructed first-century carpenter's workshop. A search of the English Content field for "carpenters" turned up an image of carpenter's tools which would work perfectly in my mother-in-law's letter. Inspired by that image, I drew parallels between Joseph and my late father-in-law to give my mother-in-law the unified theme she was looking for.
Whether you're writing Christmas letters or creating more elaborate kinds of documents, Accordance is a tremendous resource for finding just the right passage, quote, or image.