THE BLOG
12/24/2014 03:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Too Busy to Write Your Annual Family Newsletter? Here's a Better Idea.

A few years ago, I joined a group of engineers at a hack-fest and afterwards, they invited me to join them for a three day start-up accelerator course. The invitation saved me $5,000. The biggest "take away" idea I learned from the course was this: that when you give a gift to someone else, the most important thing is NOT the price tag, that is, how much you spent on that person. The most important thing is number of happy memories it links to in their mind.

Everyone in the room agreed on this one. When you give a gift that connects us to pleasant MEMORIES from the past, this is the gift that will be talked about the most and valued the most.

So who won this year's BEST prize award? The answer may surprise you, and it begins with a story from my childhood.

When I was young, we didn't have copy machines. We had Smith and Corona and IBM typewriters. We had carbon paper, and mimeograph machines. In the 1960's, when the first Xerox machines hit the market, each copy came out WET. Each one had to be dried separately, like laundry on a clothes line!

To keep our far flung family connected, my mother would take out five sheets of onion skin paper, put a sheet of blue carbon paper between each one, and then roll the five-layered newsletter into the typewriter. Using only one page, she would share the most memorable news from the year with us. We referred to our mother as the Great Communicator. As children growing up, we always believed that the most favored one was the one who got the first or second copy. After that, the words became more difficult to read on the 4th and 5th copies.

This was the generation that I grew up in. We wrote an annual newsletter, and sent it via the latest technology: mail, email, and various social media to family and friends.

Now, Facebook has come up with an algorithm that will instantly win the hearts and minds of those who dare to click on the post that shows up on their page that includes the picture of one of their friends and as in my case reads: Alexia's Year

I boldly clicked on one titled: Colleen's Year. I happily scrolled through a series of 10 images of Colleen enjoying life with family and friends. The BEST surprise was waiting at the end. I clicked a short message that mentioned my name. And suddenly, to my surprise, a series of 10 images and captions, posted by me over the year on FB, was presented with a question at the end.

The question? Do you want to edit the captions? When ready, click POST. 2014-12-24-ScreenShot20141224at8.18.23AM.png

I scrolled through the photos and read the captions several more times. The choice was perfect. Sure I could have added another favorite photo or two, or edited the captions, however, these were the words that came from ME and expressed the joy, happiness, or pleasure I felt at that moment in time!

The perfect gift? The gift that keeps reminding you that despite life's ups and downs, there were so many joyful, happy, loving moments in your life that: "Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!"

ALEXIA PARKS is a Virtual Mentor with the United Nations, author, and one of Newsweek's "50 People Who Matter Most On The Internet." She is also CEO and founder of the 10 TRAITS Academy. It is the only leadership training program in the world based on the New Science of the Female Brain.