Dutifully, for most of my adult life, I have sent out Christmas cards to all my friends — and, to my special acquaintances, a Christmas letter, detailing the events of the year.
I know some people loathe Christmas letters, but I am a sucker – I love them. It’s a great way to keep in touch with high school friends, college roommates, and every other acquaintance in life, to track their yearly addresses, and, pragmatically speaking, to save writing the same notes over and over again on Christmas cards. Yes, the letters are expedient, but they also serve as an interesting way to put one’s thoughts on paper about what this year was all about.
Some of my faraway friends merely send a card, which tells me only that they still are alive. Like “Happy holidays from Sally and John,” or “Hope you are fine, Love Tom and Ginny.” I mean, why bother (although their return address helps me track them).
Then there are the Christmas letters that presume I am an immediate family member: “Jack and Sue came from Michigan and spent a week with us this spring, while in June we had John and Karyn, and their adorable children, Steve, Kermit, April and June here for two weeks exploring Silicon Valley. This summer Mom came by for two weeks too.”
Another friend of mine likes exclamation points and optimism on her Christmas card. “We are doing well! We went to London and Paris this summer and had a wonderful time!!! Then we had a barbeque for all our friends over Labor Day and it was fantastic!! I am getting ready for Christmas now and having so much fun!!!”
But some letters are special. I particularly admire the letters that comment on world events. As one friend of mine wrote, “2006 is ending, and we are still in a world of clashes of cultures and refusals to compromise and negotiate. However, the citizens of our country seem to have an increasing awareness of this, and we can hope that our government may realize this as well. Such a world does increase our appreciation of our many dear friends, both old and new.”
That letter made me stop, and think, and in a strange way, rejoice, because I knew from their letter that they were so tuned into the global events that do affect us all, tuned in enough to make it their first sentence in their letter.
So let's all reflect. And Merry Christmas to you all, Happy Holidays, and Happy Hanukkah. The letters draw us together and maybe together we can make this world a better place to live.
Posted by Carol, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 21, 2006 at 10:37 am
Thank you Diana, you said it.
One of our important jobs is writing our Christmas letter with the right amount of news without being boring. One of the best parts of Christmas is receiving the letters from friends and family who we never hear about any other time of the year. This is the time of year for the nostalgia of old friends and family and this new fangled version of sending cheer is a great way to keep in touch. Apparently the British press has been calling this the new way of one-up-man-ship, which it may well be, but it doesn't have to be. Instead it is keeping in touch with many we would have lost touch with years ago.
So roll on those annual epistles.
Posted by Anna, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Dec 21, 2006 at 10:56 am
I agree. Holiday letters are a pleasure to read, and we enjoy hearing about the lives of our friends. Humorous ones are the best of all.
Posted by A.J., a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Dec 21, 2006 at 11:22 am
Hear! Hear! It's about time someone stood up for the Christmas/holiday/New Year's letter! I LOVE getting them! People write in them like they never write anymore in any other part of their lives. And given all the criticism heaped on the letters these days, people are really putting their hearts out there (in a way that clearly takes a lot of work).
How else would I hear about how my nephew got into his diaper pail and redecorated the walls of the nursery? Or how a relative with cancer, overwhelmed and unable to keep constant contact with a huge family, is faring in daily life? Nowadays, email and phone calls seem to hit the very immediate and the very big stuff, but often miss some of these memorable, meaningful moments. Nowadays, the letters usually come with printed photos, too.
When I get Christmas letters, I open them with all the eagerness that I used to feel when I was a kid and I knew the mail had arrived.
Posted by Judith, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Nov 30, 2007 at 11:12 am
Thanks, Diana. This is the time of year when I wonder if it's worth it for me to write a letter, mostly due to the time it takes, but also out of a fear of boring my friends and relations. Your blog entry reminds me that it may, indeed, be worth it.