Saturday, December 23, 2006

Am I the Only One?

Christmas letters have always gotten a bad rap, I know that. I always assumed it was because the people who DON’T write them thought that the people who DO write them were lazy …. Like we were somehow cheating or taking a short cut by updating everyone at one time, with a pre-printed letter, and a family picture thrown in for good measure.

I’ve been browsing web sites (like I always do; I have no idea where my spare time goes when I’m sucked into the black hole that is the internet) and have found several posts along the vein of “Christmas letters are too impersonal, if you really like me, pick up the phone and call, if you don’t really like me, chances are I don’t like you either, so don’t bother sending them, etc.”

I’ve also found posts about how the letters are lame and boring, and totally obnoxious when the writer babbles endlessly about the beauty/wit/marvelous-ness/genius of their family members that way. I can understand where they’re coming from. I remember several years ago, my friend Julie shared with me a Christmas letter she had received from someone who compared her young child to the pearl in an oyster shell, and how every day he became more beautiful and breath-taking and amazing and jewel-like. And Julie and I sat and contemplated the exquisiteness of that child, and his pearl-like qualities, and how the world is indeed a better place because of his very existence ………… and then we totally cracked up.

Yeah, ok, that’s a little obnoxious.

But you know what? I don’t even care. I LOVE getting Christmas letters from people, and I love writing and sending out my own Christmas letter. Although I try very hard, when I write my own Christmas letter, not to compare my children to pearls. Dirty rotten sock monkeys, maybe, but not pearls.

Maybe the reason I like getting the letters, besides the fact I’m nosy and love to glimpse into people’s lives that way, is because we’re a military family who has lived in nine different states in the past nineteen years, making friends in each and every state. Friends that I care about, and love hearing from, even if it’s only once a year. As much as I would love to stay in touch via the phone, or more regular correspondence, well, people are busy. They have lives, I have a life, and despite the best intentions of staying connected, you look up, and six months have gone by without a word. So Christmas letters are a great way for us to keep up with long-distance friends. Of course, I like getting the letters from our local friends as well. It doesn’t even matter if I just had lunch with you …. If I open my mail box this afternoon and find a Christmas letter from you, it will make me happy.

I like hearing about what someone’s kids are doing and where they traveled on vacation this year. I want to know if someone got sick, or broke their leg skiing, and if they’re better now. I care about your pets, and your after-school activities, and your new job and square-dance lessons and cooking club and Busy Beaver Book Club Award. Am I the only one?

And the pictures? How can anyone not like getting pictures of their friends, no matter the time of year? You guys all know I scrapbook --- did you also know that I have a special Christmas scrapbook, and every year I take the pictures that our friends send us, and put them in this album, so I can go back and see how they’ve changed, and how their kids have grown throughout the years? Seriously. I’m all about the pictures. Surely I’m not the only one.

While we’ve still gotten several Christmas pictures in our mailbox this year, I’ve noticed markedly less letters. Is it true? Does everyone but me find them obnoxious?

You know my friend Julie, the one I mentioned above? Her Christmas letter is always one of the first I receive each year, and it’s freaking hysterical. She’s so organized I’m pretty sure they are written, addressed and stamped by mid-November, and she must mail them the day after Thanksgiving. But this year? Nothing. Julie, where are you? I miss hearing how B. and Z. are doing. Is he still a reading-fool? Does she still take piano lessons? Is she still lobbying hard for her own horse? Is J. getting close to retirement? Are you still obsessed with Subway? I can’t properly convey the humor and attitude Julie expresses when talking about her kids and her husband, but believe me when I tell you she is the master of the one-line zinger and she cracks me up; I’ve missed her letter this year.

So, what’s your take on it? Do you like the annual Christmas letter, or hate it? Do you write one yourself? Do your roll your eyes when you receive one? Or do you love keeping up with friends this way?

I adore the Christmas letter. Am I the only one?

And I can tell you right now that if you hate them, don’t visit this site in the next day or two because that’s what I’ll be posting next on this site; this year’s Christmas letter from our family.

Pearls not included.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I LOVE CHRISTMAS LETTERS!! and PICTURES! what is wrong with these people?! LOL

Okay confession time. I have read for a very long time and have never commented. Kendrie and your family have become a very special part of my day, just wanted you to know that. :)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
~Autumn

Anonymous said...

Kristie,

I just love christmas letters too! The photos definitely brighten up the holiday season too. I'm always ready to open the mailbox during December to see who's life has changed and what so and so looks like now. I can't wait to read your christmas letter in the next few days. Well I better go get my last minute christmas shopping done and drop off a student's christmas gift.

Lots of long island love,
Erin

Megan said...

I love getting your Christmas letter, love, love, love it. But yours is the ONLY one I get. I'm not creative enough to put a year into words the way that you do. But I always look forward to getting your letter and sharing it with my family and friends.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Christmas letter person myself. But have I done ours this year? No. Agh! Perhaps I can redeem myself and combine my Christmas letter with a New Year's greeting. I'm thinking of doing something different this year since people don't want to hear how my children are one year older and my husband and I have the same jobs as we've had for the last umpteen years (which is a good thing but not a newsworthy thing). I'm thinking of telling them what life in our house is *really* like instead of sharing report card grades and growth chart progress. Like finding my son's underwear in a tree. Like my youngr son who would still be breastfeeding if I allowed it. (He's nine. We've got some serious attachment issues.) Like my kitty shrinking from 12 pounds down to 5 pounds. Poor kitty. Hyperthyroidism. Like my husband who ... come to think of it, he just doesn't do anything embarassing. I do enough embarrassing things for the both of us. Like when my fake ponytail thingy (come on, admit it, those of us who are not blessed with Kristie hair have to admit to occasionally throwing one of those puppies on to enhance our locks) ..... anyway, like when my fake ponytail thingy fell off in the store and my son said, "Uh MoOOOOM!" And there he stood holding this thing that looked like a rat. Yes, my hair. Good grief. I admitted that? So anyway, continue with your Christmas letters and those who love them will be blessed to hear from you. Have a Merry Christmas.

Claire Strayer
Indiana

rielap said...

I love Christmas letters. I write a Christmas letter, hey, if you don't want to read it, you can just toss it out, right?

My children are not pearls. They are kids, with flaws, they drive me nuts on a regular basis, but I love them more than anything.

Marie

Kristina said...

Merry Christmas!

I too love to get those letters and especially the photos. I am so happy to read your blog although I still check on Kendrie's site to see if you update it as well! I hope your family has a wonderful holiday season!

Kristina

Marjie said...

I love Christmas letters I agree with you whole heartedly. I love writing them and receiving them.
I pray you all have a Merry Christmas and a cancer free new year for everyone..

Anonymous said...

I loveeeeee Christmas letters....and the pictures too!!! My mom never sent them. First she didn't have any friends who she really wanted to update since our family primarily lives in our area, and then later on she was just lazy!!!

I cannot wait to read your family's Christmas letter.

JoAnn from Mn said...

No, you are not the only one. Christmas is about the only time I stalk the mailman because he barely gets past our box and I am running out the door to retreive the Christmas cards and pictures. It's my favorite time!!! I am guilty though- we usually don't include a letter, and its only because I am lazy. One thing though- while I love seeing people's kids, I wish more people would send of picture of them with their kids too. I like to see the entire family in the pictures. And the cards with no picture or letter??? So yes, I agree wholeheartedly with what you said Kristie, and I will be looking forward to reading you Christmas letter in the coming days. Wishing you and your entire family a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2007!

Anonymous said...

I love Christmas letters! I love to hear from family and friends and see pictures. I have to admit I cheated and sent my own friends e-cards... But those are my friends I see everyday and the cards cracked me up, and I like virtual cards too. Ok not as much as the real, paper ones... Anyway.

Sending my best wishes to you and the rest of the family for Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Oops I forgot to sign...
Renee from Canada (the country where it's NOT supposed to rain on a 23rd of December)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Christmas letters and the ones with the pictures are even better. I do not write them because I try to keep up with emails through the year. Besides that... mine would not be full of bragging gushy stuff... it would be more like this: Another year in The Last Frontier... We are all rejoicing this holiday season as our son Billy will be released from the "Gray Bar Motel" in time for us to have Christmas dinner together. He is so excited because he will also be able to meet his sister Betty's children that he has not seen since he has been on his 5 year "vacation". Betty turned 18 this year and is working hard on her GED and hopefully she will pass next time she takes the test... they say "three times a charm" and we sure hope so for Betty. It is snowing non-stop for 3 days now and I am praying that it stops soon because with Betty, her 3 kids, hubby Bubba and now Billy coming home... well...even a double wide can get little tight.
Besides that... the shitter's full and needs to be emptied and that is Billy's job! I'm about ready to call Kristie and ask her to share some of her wine with me ! I wonder if that wine is in a box or bottle?

Thanks for sharing our joy during this holiday season.

Jeri from Hawaii said...

Kristie,

Like you (and many others) I LOVE Christmas letters. Is it because I enjoy catching up with friends - you bet! Although I occasionally get the boring, bragging kind...but what the heck, I can decide to skim through it (or just toss it) but at least I know there are people who thought enough of me to include me on their lists.

I am really looking forward to the Escoe family annual letter. If you want a copy of our letter (and the accompanying family photo) just let me know where to send it (couthenj001@hawaii.rr.com).

Happy holidays to you and yours.
With much aloha,
Jeri

Tobi said...

Kristie,

We love to both send and receive Christmas letters. I wish I had the time to handwrite personal notes to each person on our Christmas card list, but I don't. So, we write and send a letter every year, as our way of sharing family events and milestones. We don't have any "pearls" in our family, but we usually have some ridiculous story to tell on ourselves - unfailingly embarassing - and we're not afraid to share it. Receiving letters from friends is one of the ways that we stay connected!

So if you're taking a poll, add my vote in the "Yes to Christmas Letters" column!

Anonymous said...

I love Christmas letters! Getting them that is. I occasionally think about actually writing one myself, but that would require both time and effort. Seeing as I order cards from Shutterfly with pics I have taken myself and the greeting already printed on them, you can see where my priorities lie. Ah well, maybe one of these days.

Merry Christmas!
Carolyn (former TOSS - you know, the one who never even managed to get to the finding IPs stage)

Pam Doughty said...

I love Christmas letters, too.. from everyone else! As for us, well, there's simply not enough fodder to make one interesting. We have one kid, he's six and we're working hard NOT to make him the center of attention. The last thing we need is a missive that revolves around him; but, there isn't a whole lot else to report on in our lives. So, no letter, just a picture, and much happiness when we RECEIVE a letter. (With the exception of a cousin from Ohio who sends a letter to my mom every year that is the TEMPLATE of how not to write a Christmas letter.. all of her kids are the perfect pearl type and I used to love to play with her when we were kids but I hate her guts now...). Enough babbling..love the blog and the new concept for the CB site. Already have been contacted by two different friends with prayer requests for kids newly diagnosed with cancer; have already sent them to Kendrie's site. I feel like I can actually be of some help now; thank you so much.
Merry Christmas... from one who has followed your family for almost two years and is praying that 2007 will be the year that the crap sandwich is removed completely from your menu and replaced with nothing but filet mignon.

Trish said...

I love Christmas letters. I am glad to hear you save your pictures. I always wonder what people do with the pictures I send them of my sons....last year my cousin sent his annual christmas card with photo - and his tree was completely covered in pictures he had received in previous years. It was amazing!! Very cute idea, but my pictures aren't all organized in a scrapbook :)

carolyn said...

I LOVE Christmas letters and pictures. We, too, are a military family and have lived in 6 different places in 17 years with the AF. I save my pictures in a scrapbook as well. In fact, I had it out last night looking at it. The bummer about the scrapbook is those we have lost touch with over the years. Since most of them are military as well, if you skip a year sending one out, you could be screwed because we all have to move so much we get lost sometimes. Funny how we tend to find each other after a couple of years through other contacts. It's a strange, small world.
And...my letter did not go out until the 20th and I've already had someone bitchin' about it being late. LOL! I feel so loved.
People who do not like Christmas letters are just anti-social grumps. So there.

Although, my girlfriend shared one she got from her neighbor last week and I just about peed my pants. The kids are freakin' dysfunctional heathens and to read about them you would think they were litte genius children that everyone just luvs. OMG! Next year, I think my letter might be the top ten list of bad behaviors just so my friends won't think we've all got the big head.

Kristie-love, love, love the blog. Take care and have a Merry Christmas!

Carolyn at McChord

Kristin Hicks said...

I also love Christmas letters. Coming from a military family myself, where we made 6 moves from the time I was born until I turned 10, I can agree with you. We made lots of friends that now live all over the country. I enjoy Christmas letters immensely. I've had so many things come up in the past 2 years around the holidays that I haven't sent them out in 2 years. This year I'm late, but I am sending them.

I appreciate you helping the rest of us try to keep the tradition alive!

Anonymous said...

I don't send Christmas letters, but LOVE receiving them! As well as pictures. I'm an avid reader, but rarely sign...so I'll take this opportunity to say MERRY CHRISTMAS ESCOES!!!

Teresa
Nashville, TN

Anonymous said...

Kristie,

I love getting Chrstmas letters too. I really liked getting yours and the picture of all of you.

Makes me think I should get off my lazy ass and do one too... maybe in January.

I drives me crazy when people send cards with nothing but their name on it - what is the point! I want pictures and news and everything.

Sue

harrypottersbiggestfan said...

Hey Kristie - have a wonderful Christmas - cant wait to hear about it afterwards. Love and prayers to you all - so hoping Blaine can chew his Christmas dinner. Lisa .

Amy from St.Pete said...

I love getting Christmas letters, and if I get a picture, my day has been made!! I'm all about the pictures too, they rock!! I haven't ever written one to send out, but I want to. I usually send pictures of the kids with an update ever couple of months. I may overdo it a bit with the amount of pictures I send, but I just love them so much.
Check your email and I'll send you our Christmas picture and update some time today.
Merry Christmas!!

Marcia, from sunny Ontario said...

OK, either I'm the only one who disagrees with you, or the only one with enough balls to say so!! LOL Actually, I don't totally disagree. I LOVE getting pictures, and I send a picture of my kids. I love reading Terry's yearly letter, and I'm sure I'll love yours. What I don't like is getting the yearly update from people like some of my family members who we only hear from through that letter, and we get to hear about how many times they've worked out that year, how much weight they've lost, etc. Not the kind of update I want to hear. :o)
BUT, I did log on right now hoping to see your letter posted, and I'll be back to check for it later tonight.
Have an AMAZING Christmas with your wonderful family!!!
Love,
Marcia and the gang, who are soaking up the sun in Ontario today!

Natalie said...

Yes, indeedy, I do LOVE getting the Christmas letters. In fact, I get annoyed now when I get just a card with people's name imprinted in it. Couldn't they at least sign their name? Mine were a tad late out this year. I'd like to blame the late delivery on the blizzard that hit Denver, but let's be honest, they would have been late anyway. So. . .yours should be to you by about Easter!

Kathi (Melanie's Mom) said...

Hi Kristie,

Just wanted to say that I also love Christmas letters, and send out a (short) one each year to friends that live far away, aunts and uncles, and cousins. I generally don't send them to people we see often, but they still get a picture and a card. I also love getting them from friends and family, and have never gotten what I would consider a "bad one" (the annoying bragging about kids kind...).

Anyway, I'm in your camp on that one, and just wanted to let you know.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

Kathi

Tracy said...

I love them!!! But sadly, have not gotten to mine yet. I am starting a new tradition of the Happy New Year News!!! What do you think?

Ann said...

I love Christmas letters! I send my own out, and look forward to getting them from others. Nothing makes me sadder than getting a Christmas card from more than one of my relatives (and this is the only time of year that I DO hear from them) and all they do is sign their name on a Christmas card. Why bother?

My 17 year old daugter begged me this year to do a dummy letter full of glowing reports (exaggerations) of both my kids' accomplishments this year, just to send to one particular family who also have "pearls" for children. We look so forward to their Christmas letter, because it is so over-the-top in bragging! Christmas wouldn't be the same without giggling over their letter! Yet, I would miss it terribly if they didn't send it...

Patty House said...

I love Christmas Letters too! I usually write one, but didn't get around to it this year. 20 people got the picture Christmas cards from when we had our pictures done at Wal-Mart. The rest got a glittery, messy Christmas card that was just signed. I plan on doing getting back on track next year. =)

Patty H
Jasonville, IN

Tracey said...

Hey Kristie!

Of course you are not the only one! Women are NATURALLY nosy and even if they won't admit it, are actually dying to hear all about other peoples lives :-) I love receiving Christmas letters (so far, only Terry's this year, LOVE it!) because I am truly interested to find out what is going on in their lives and truly care. They can brag on all they like about their kids....what parent doesn't want to brag about their kids? Parents are very proud of their kids and I think we should all celebrate in their successes, no matter how small...share the love, baby! If Michelle's son scored the winning goal, I am THRILLED for him, if someone else got straight A's, ditto! Let's hear all the good stuff, it makes the world go round. There is plenty enough crap going on, I love to hear the good news from others. If this is tempered with some funny stories of our 'not so perfect' children, even better (but not necessary). A little humor is always appreciated. :-) Photos of the family in the card are also especially appreciated. So far, I have been posting most of them onto a place of honor on the refridgerator, some I buy little frames for and my idea this year was to put them in hanging frames on the Xmas tree. I love your scrapbook idea and had just thought of that this year and I think that will be my newest project for 2007! If you have any of those Xmas photos left, send one my way!! We were all sick over Xmas and still are, so half my mail did not make it out, it will now be New Year's mail..I'll be getting school pics of Quinn and Callum out to you as soon as I can!
Merry Christmas to the Escoe Family, I love your new blog, thanks for the laughs and introspection, you always get me thinking!
Love Tracey and clan xox
(NO Xmas letter for Marcia, ever!)

Marcia said...

Hmmm, just a wee comment on the message above this one. While she sounds all mean and grouchy in her last line, Tracey is a good friend of mine. (I think!!!) ;o)
I didn't want anyone to think a cat fight was about to begin.