The teens of today communicate through texts, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. A few still use Facebook. One thing they rarely get is snail mail, a hand written note or letter. One of my youth told me that she only receives a hand written note from Grandma (with a $20 bill inside) once a year.
It’s easy to believe we should offer big programs for youth with lots of activities. But during this busy time of year I take the opposite route.
During Advent I buy some Christmas cards. Then I hand write each youth a personal note in their card. I write a lot more than Happy New Year in their cards. I take the time to tell them things that are awesome about them. Maybe a funny memory, a shared experience or some thing I witnessed to back up my personal and positive words. Then I share with them how much I am glad that are in my life. What makes this a wonderful gift - it is hand written!
So this is my Advent devotional. I write a few personal cards each day. I find a quite place, grab a cup of coffee, and then take a few minutes to pray about the kids I am writing a card to that day.
I enjoy seeing many of the youth who are now adults during the holidays. They often tell me that they still have their Christmas cards that I sent them during their teens. (I have been in youth ministry at the same parish for over 30 years.)
A few years ago, a past youth who is now a parent of two told me that he writes a letter to his young children at year's end. The kids read them on New Years Day. He has seen his kids re-read them throughout the year, especially when times are hard. During the college years many take them to read during a bad day also.
A text, an email and a snapchat are great. But they also can get lost very easily. A hand written letter is becoming a lost art. I was told by a youth last year that a hand written letter makes the words real. I agree.
So please give your youth a personal gift through the Christmas cards this year.