The Christmas Card Letter

You know what I mean — those letters run through a printer on seasonal stationery and tucked into a Christmas card. They’ve been the butt of many parodies and late-night television jokes.

I love them!

The mean-spirited parodies feature a couple of plot lines. There’s the “All our kids got Fulbrights, we spent Christmas in Chamonix, February in Africa advising Bono, played a few chukkers during  the polo season in Buenos Aires, and just got back from Basel Miami Art Fair.” narrative.

Or the faux and snarky disaster plot  :” The trailer park got took up in the tornado, Maw’s dentures got run over by Gramp’s pickup, and Tiffany lost three fingers in the plucking machine at Tyson’s.”

Yeah, yeah it’s easy and fun, and Zoolander has discussed sending out a Christmas note noir, featuring only the year’s dark moments. Bah. There’s just no place for cynicism. Look: I get cards from fam and friends, no frenemy on the list — all good people I love. Why wouldn’t I want to hear about their year? Why on earth would I laugh my way through them — (OK, I’ve been guilty a couple of times. )

Both my sisters-in-law are artful lettreistes, funny and soulful and good writers. I love the stream of consciousness letter from the husband of a friend — they’re the ones with kids with Fulbrights — he is such a damn great writer. And I cherish the annual correspondence from another Margaret who  I met in First Grade. I haven’t seen her for forty years, but I know her teaching schedule at McGill, I know that she has a cat named Aslan, I know her daughter’s in Nursing School.

So, you ask, “Why don’t you craft a Christmas card letter, hmmmm?” I did, once, the year I bought my first PC — do you remember the bliss, the miracle, the magic of your first PC and your first printer? It was well-received. But it was a one-time wonder.

OK, I’ll trot out excuses. Well, I’ve mostly made my own cards, and that uses up creative time. Also, I often write a note in a Christmas card to put a friend in the way of anything notable of common interest.(Which leads me to a side rant: Why does no one under forty put pen to card stock and sign his/her name? OK, there are a couple of exceptions.) And I’ll huddle under the cloak of Facebook — you’ll see my status daily, right? You’ll read what I made for dinner, my soul state, and what I Like.

And yeah, I blog. If you’re kind enough to keep up with me here why should I burden you with a Christmas letter? It feels egotistical.

But these are my excuses. For everyone else: buy that paper with the poinsettia border, tell me about your black diamond skiing, your promotion, your layoff, your new Newfoundland puppy. Those letters are my Christmas bonus.





Filed under Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, History, Holidays, Into the Mystic, Paper

5 responses to “The Christmas Card Letter

  1. I love that you love those—so do I. Got a splendid one just this evening, and we read it to each other up in the pretty-decorated living room, soon as it came out of the mailbox.

    It even mentioned US as part of their year—as would THEY be in ours, had we one.

    Now, see that sentence? That’s why I don’t write ’em, I think—to folks who don’t see me all year anyway, having a new cat would sound like I’m walking an ocelot in my new Dior. (On which it would drape better). I’m just too wordy, I get off track, and I’ve blabbed it all in 300 posts already that year.

    But I LOVE them. You have my address.

  2. Lloyd

    You may have been a recipient of the one and only December letter I ever wrote – in 1978. I spent the fall that year on Maui with St Joyce and Herman taking a break from the rigours of my job at UMass. As US Thanksgiving passed, I got homesick for the Mainland, and for New England in particular, and wrote a holiday letter to all and sundry about what a delightful time I’d had with the Parental Units, but how, after 3 months I had been there long enough. I typed on St J’s manual typewriter and made copies at the local Xerox Parlour and sent them along to one and all, and if my memory serves, you and Lou got one. Sadly, 32 years later, I do not have a copy in my files.

  3. Kouign Aman

    Right then, here you are:
    the munchkin is learning to create sentences in mandarin. For days of the week, she thinks first in mandarin then translates to english. Her math and science and english are at grade-level, as compared to the 4 other first graders I know, all in different local schools. I guess this means the immersion program is a success.
    She gets “yay plusses” from her piano teacher, and was thrilled to lose her first tooth.
    The manperson’s new business is getting rave reviews from customers, tho its not near meeting its own ends, much less contributing to household income. He’s very happy about how its all going. He still loves singing most of all.
    I suspect my life has changed very little since this time last year, tho we did discard/donate and otherwise dispose of enough stuff last summer to provide a foreign exchange student with her own room and bath this school year.
    This year, no one was memorably ill, thank goodness (we had our noir year), Grandma’s heart issues are stable, the other Grandma’s leukemia is indolent at this time, and Grandpa has no known health issues, and continues to do well with his business.
    The household got smaller by one very small gecko :(, and larger by a smelly old coonhound this year :).
    And all of us which you a very merry christmas and a happy new year!

  4. kim shook

    See – if everyone’s were like Kouign’s, I’d love them and keep them forever. Sadly, most of the folks who send them to us feel that simple prose is somehow not up to snuff and instead are inspired to parody well known Christmas carols. In the right hands this could be delicious – a little irony would be welcome. But the strained rhymes and Pollyanna-ish cherriness ends up just being grating. We do get a few that are just newsy letters and those I do love. And I got a snarky limerick on year that I cherished!

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