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Merry Christmas From The Family

2006-12-11, 4:33 p.m.

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Okay, this is another "nothing going on, I spent the rest of the weekend and my free time working on gifts, nothing to talk about" day, so let's hit the prompts.

# 2006-12-11: "Those mass-produced family holiday newsletters" by Jette.

I am not an automatic newsletter-hater. I think it depends on the letter itself. I am madly in love with any funny ones that get sent along, and I adore David Sedaris's "Merry Christmas From The Family" (I'm sure this surprises no one). I think funny letters, cards, etc. should be encouraged.

I can think of two groupings of relatives who do the newsletter thing regularly in my family. One has pretty much pared theirs down to sending out a poem and/or photos, especially since all of the kids have left the house. The other one is Aunt Susie and Uncle Brad, whose letters are usually written from the POV of one of the many pets and go on and on about their trips to Europe. I have no idea how they can afford to go to Europe for like a month every single year with three kids and two of 'em in college, but somehow they seem to manage it.

To be honest, I don't give a shit if I ever go to Europe or not (good thing, 'cause it's not likely), and that entire continent wouldn't make my top ten wish list destinations anyway. I was, however, quite jealous when they all went off to Australia, which would be on my list. I'm not really someone who wants to hear about other people's fabulous vacations in general, much less get forced to look at your photo albums, watch your videos...and read your holiday newsletter bragging about such too. Especially when it's not like I'm going anywhere fabulous and far away any time soon or far from now. Really, just get me a cheap amusing souvenir and let's be done with it.

Anyway, I suppose "our trips to Europe were fabulous!" letters fall into the infamous Bragging Category that everyone hates so much. And yeah, it sucks when you read about all of the good stuff that happened to that family while yours uh, didn't go so well. Especially when Little Susie made straight A's again while your Charlie only managed to get a D in math this year and Little Billy got a perfect SAT score and your Lizzie's going to juvenile hall.

Truth be told, I think holiday letters should be for bragging, should you have anything to brag about. What's the alternative if you don't have anything to brag about? Do you really want to send out an honest but depressing letter? Were one sent to you, would you want to read it? Who wants to read the holiday letter where two people died this year and another one went into the hospital and another couple's on the verge of divorce? I wouldn't want to.

Of course, I guess there's also the dilemma of "some stuff to brag about, some not." Someone on chat (cat, I think) mentioned getting a holiday letter where one child was obviously very favored over the other two and was the obviously perfect one. Ouch.

I'm glad my mom never joined the Holiday Letter Brigade. Not that this was going to happen anyway because she can't even manage to send out cards to people when she claims that she wants to, much less sit down and write anything. But I think ours would have been just weird on both the lopsided and the depressing levels.

For example, this is probably what Mom would have produced circa the mid-to-late 90's:
Dad: "Nothing much happened this year. Got more trains and another car. Went to Montana to visit Grandma."
Mom: "Nothing much happened this year. Uh...nothing much happened this year. I do nothing. My entire life is my family. Someone give me martyr points already so I can be validated!!!"
Jen: "Well, little Jennie has a 3.whatever GPA this year, she's in fifteen different clubs, she won X different awards at the county fair and won blah blah at the state competition blah blah..."

Yes, I was the Braggable Child, should one decide to go in that direction. I think it's a good thing for everyone that Mom didn't send out letters like that. It's a little lopsided, not to mention obnoxious to pull that kind of thing when college applications aren't involved.

I'm glad Mom wasn't in the habit of writing such things once Dad got sick, I shudder to think of how one would handle discussing that in a letter that's supposed to be cheerful. Especially when Certain People Who Couldn't Handle The Truth weren't being told everything (or much of anything) the rest of the year. It's not exactly uplifting holiday material anyway.


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