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.