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Ode to obnoxious Christmas newsletters

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Everyone complains about bragging, overly-detailed Christmas newsletters.

Invasive medical procedures undergone in May are recounted on paper rimmed with robust snowmen. Splashy vacations are described in so much detail, the room smells like Coppertone and the majestic horse the newsletter writer rode in the surf on the white sand beach. The list of their children’s proudest moments would serve as a smart opening for a European Union application essay–yes, the accomplishments are so numerous, the EU might consider admitting a sovereign 8-year-old individual into their economic, social, and military alliance.

Parole officers, perfect health, demotions, bad report cards, and the story of the time back in March she was asked to resign from the volunteer committee under suspicion of using club funds to fuel her Starbucks addiction? The snowmen on the letterhead aren’t telling. Shhh.

Nobody admits to writing overly newsy newsletters. Oddly, everyone seems to have several relatives and friends who love paying extra postage to pack four single-spaced pages between the stiff folds of boxed cards. Someone has to be doing writing these.

It’s not me. It’s not you. Oh, heavens no! You say as you promise you’d never write such a tome. You can barely get the cards out of the house, addressed and stamped, by December 27th. It’s a good year when you manage to capture the family with a photo. The matching turtlenecks were purely accidental.

I think it’s time for Christmas newsletter writers to step out of the shadows and admit they are responsible for raising the ire of the nation. From sea to shining sea, ’tis the season of carefully-edited information dumping. Be proud! Your letter is.

Today, I will make it a little easier for you.

I love these letters.

I love that someone thought I’d like to know about their life in the past year. Accomplishments should be celebrated, health setbacks have the right to be noted. That procedure with the big sharp tube-thingy was probably scary. You got to go on an amazing vacation, funded by your Jeopardy win? You rock!

If I sleep with your letter under my pillow, could your good fortune rub off on me?

Whomever you are, keep churning out the newsy newsletter. Spare no detail, shove away any thought of self-censorship. I want to know. I love the heavy envelopes in the mailbox this time of year. Your life is in there, sealed and delivered into my life.

I am glad to know you.

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Comments
  • comment avatar edj (www.planetnomad.wordpress.com) December 10, 2008

    Can I email you mine? 😉

  • comment avatar Suzanne B (Crunchy green Mom) December 10, 2008

    I have been debating ALL week on whether to write one or not. I mean honestly… everyone who knows me, knows what my kids are up to. They know that I think my kids are saints and that my son likes to break body parts and make his Mommy cry. Do I really need to put it into a letter?

    How about just a picture.. of the family… with my son in an arm sling?? He’s the only boy with five sisters… he’s allowed to break body parts…

    ~sighs~ Yep… my creativity goes into my blogging… my holiday letter will be replaced by nice sentiment and a picture!!

  • comment avatar Kristin December 10, 2008

    I love Christmas letters too. my husband keeps a tight rein on ours. This year, he said one line per family member. That’ll fill up the page!

  • comment avatar Joanne December 10, 2008

    Thanks for letting us off the hook of all the aforementioned. I just might dust off my holiday pen and actually write a Christmas Letter. It’s been, um, 7 years or so.

  • comment avatar Jody December 10, 2008

    I don’t write Xmas letters (that’s what my blog is for, right?!) – but I do love to get them. It’s like a little window into their little world. There’s a definite “art” to the Christmas letter too – it takes some talent to keep it on a personal level, but also not make it sound too braggy or too woe-is-me.

    Jody @ Mile High Mommy

  • comment avatar Shayne December 10, 2008

    LOL, I love reading them too! Actually, the ones we’ve gotten so far this year have been well done — enough to hit the highlights for each family member and give a flavor of the year, but not so much detail that you cringe.

    Even though I love reading them, I’ve never written one because I really am one of those “lucky to get them in the envelopes and out the door by Christmas” people!

  • comment avatar Beck December 10, 2008

    Oh, I write them. Kind of. We generally make a joke-newspaper Christmas card. One of last year’s articles proclaimed an all-time household literacy rate of 80%, with a picture of the Baby titled “Can’t read, wets self.” Everyone but my mother-in-law likes ’em.

  • comment avatar Kagey December 10, 2008

    I’ll confess. I write a newsy-newsletter every year, with faux headlines and pull quotes of my kids’ first words. A funny picture of the dog with her head down a coat sleeve beside a shot of the kids in the Halloween costumes. And a nice family shot to top it all off (no matching turtlenecks here!)
    I feel better getting that off my chest!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson December 10, 2008

    Ahhhh, how comforted I was to read this post! I am the queen of holiday newsletters and have been remiss that I will not be sending mine out this year due to the economic downturn. Of course, my remiss may just be my recipients’ relief. 🙂

  • comment avatar Momma, The Casual Perfectionist December 11, 2008

    Hi. I’m Momma, The Casual Perfectionist, and not only love getting newsy holiday letters, I write newsy holiday letters. [I’m pausing here for the “Hi, Momma!”]

    BUT, for the record! I keep my letters to one page. The FRONT side, ONLY. And, this year I did NOT use tiny font.

    Honest.

    ~Momma
    http://thecasualperfectionist.com

  • comment avatar Caloden December 12, 2008

    Those Christmas letters make me feel like I am one of the bunch. I know I’m not because they were also mailed to 167 other people, but it still feels kinda nice. As far as writing them? I did once. About 7 years ago. In the time since I just haven’t been able to dress up our lives and put glittery holiday stamps all over the borders. But keep ’em coming!

  • comment avatar Lori December 12, 2008

    I was feeling bad because I’m a Christmas letter slacker. I’ve never done one — too lazy to be bothered.

    But then I realize that I subject people to my bragging/health concerns/stories of good fortune ALL YEAR ROUND!

    It’s called blogging.

    Merry Christmas, Gretchen. From my perfect family to yours.

  • comment avatar A mom in the burbs December 15, 2008

    I love getting people’s letter’s for the most part! I write one, too. Though this year, I totally stole my friends idea and instead of going through our year, I interviewed the kids (ended up with all of the family answering the questions, except the toddler, but I made up answers for her).

    I try to strike a funny, casual tone. I’m not as concise as the Casual Perfectionist (interview with 10 questions and 5 family members answering it took both pages), but I didn’t use tiny font either! Go me! 🙂

    Here is a little sample for you.
    Q:What are you scared of?
    9 yo: The things in the ocean and of the dark and of some bad magical creatures. And sharks and snakes.
    6 yo: Monsters. Drooly, scary monsters that live under my bed at night and in my closet in the daytime when I can’t see them. 🙁 [Phew—it’s a good thing we don’t have kids with any imagination! Can you imagine how hard it would be to get them to sleep at night??]
    2 yo: Of not having my binky. Or my puppy. Or my polka-dottie blanky.
    Hubby: Clowns [Seriously? ‘Cause your sci-fi stuff totally creeps me out…]
    Me: That we (separately and as a family) don’t live out our purpose. Oh, and that going to the gym is not going to make any difference in my mid-riff.

  • comment avatar Toni-Lynn December 15, 2008

    You have been tagged! (hope you will join in but no obligation!) http://tinyurl.com/5cuax6

  • comment avatar jen December 16, 2008

    My husband has done the card for years and I’m still hoping he’ll be able to pull it off again this year. I have a photo card ready to go, but nothing else. I looooove getting the letters, for the same reason. I want to know what’s going on in everyone’s life and love reading them. Maybe I’ll go toss a pen and paper into his hands…
    http://www.laughingatchaos.wordpress.com

  • comment avatar Jamie @ ohbecareful.com December 16, 2008

    I LOVE Christmas newsletters. I’ve written a couple myself, but haven’t in a while–the holidays just seem to go by at the speed of light. I’m one of those lucky-to-get-cards-out types. (Which reminds me…)

    Thanks for sticking up for the good old wordy newsletter.

  • Pingback:Humility in Errors « Ann Kroeker

  • comment avatar Ann Kroeker December 26, 2008

    You inspired me to write a Christmas newsletter this year…but I kept it fairly lean.

    I thought about this post of yours a lot when our own Christmas cards and notes started rolling in. We would, for example, receive a photo with no news, and I found that I *did* want to know about that family’s year. Then I’d get the fat one requiring extra postage, and I *did* enjoy reading the grandmother’s long review of every family member’s accomplishments.

    So. I tried to strike a healthy balance and offer a few tidbits of the last year.

    Then I sent it.

    And later…I spotted at least one error.

    Talk about humiliating. A writer sends out a Christmas letter with grammatical errors.

    Ugh.

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