That’s the other term for Christmas letters.
Let’s be frank, I hate them. Here’s why:
- I never heard from that family for 12 months, they didn’t initiate any phone calls, they never e-mailed. Suddenly I end up with a letter from them explaining all the things that were more important than my family and me (purrllleasse – clipping dogs’ nails???). The good thing is that now I know why you never returned my phone calls or answered your e-mails – you were ankle-deep in toenail clippings.
- The bragging factor. I am glad that there’s something to talk about but I am not interested in the row of “A”s that your son or daughter got or how they are the most fabulous 5 year old violinist in the universe. Your two overseas holidays at expensive destinations. The expensive gifts your DH gave you. The promotions at work.
- The ‘sad’ note to one of the paragraphs about how they rather wish other people would write Christmas letters. How about they think about those of us who keep in touch with care and good wishes during the year, however briefly?
- Those who try to sell us something. Yeah, lovely that you’ve started your pyramid business, but I am so not interested in that and even less sweet on the idea of you advertising it in your Christmas letter.
- The Christmas letter that turns up in late January so that everybody knows exactly how busy you were. Give up. Just do happy new year cards on the computer. Or send out a mass e-mail.
Thinking about it, there are two main points that bug me about Christmas letters. I mean, I crap on about a heckuva lot but some of these things are trivial.
The first is that I feel kind of insulted that a family has dropped me from “keeping in touch in a neighbourly fashion” to “stranger who is communicated with once a year”. They’re not sufficiently interested in me or my family to telephone, even when there has been bad news, or to send an e-mail, or (this is a true Australian thing) a pre-printed greeting card that says the words you can’t find at the time.
The second is the bragging. I am a former classroom teacher and still work as a professional private music teacher. In some cases, I’ve seen your kids recently. You’re probably not going to convince me that your kid is the next Albert Einstein, Sofia Kovalevskaya, Yo-Yo Ma, or Sumi Jo. Good luck to him or her, all the same. Appreciate your DD and DS for who they are, not your aspirations heaped upon them.
I have another category which I’ll call 2a. This is the self-deprecation method, often seen in the January Christmas letters but also seen in those sent out late November/early December. It consists of a list of how busy they are, how they didn’t do X or Y because of busy-ness, how they feel like a bit of a failure in some cases, and then it just gets worse. I diligently read through those letters, hoping that there will be a note of redemption at the end, where I’ll be told that the coming year will bring organisation, relief and more to that family, but frankly, I’m not holding out much hope.
And that would be why I send out mass-produced, made in Australia, commercial message Christmas cards, with my own greeting and signature.
It’s not a case of sour grapes because I don’t have any great achievements to write about. Seriously, this year, what on earth could I say that wouldn’t put a dampener on the proceedings? This year, I feel fully justified to continue my Christmas card process and keep the peace.