Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas letters

If you haven't already noticed, my husband and I are pretty geeky. We love crossword puzzles and regularly debate whether we are using a word correctly. We actually consult a dictionary on a semi-regular basis. We like puns and laugh at dumb things. This is apparent in our annual Christmas letters. See, my philosophy on Christmas cards is I like to hear a little bit about what is going on in the sender's life. Just a picture is not enough for me. I like some information. That said, I have my limits. I think, like resumes, Christmas letters should be one page, if possible, and should be to the point. If they are funny, all the better. I don't appreciate the letters that are braggy, but prefer more down-to-earth letters.

Sometimes, though, I have difficulty writing these letters, because I don't feel like when we get to my paragraph, I have anything very interesting to say. I mean, who wants to hear how many poopy messes I cleaned up or how often I had to separate my squabbling children? On the other hand, I don't want to downplay my contribution to the family. It may be really, really mundane and menial stuff I do, for the most part, but someone's got to do it. And it does take a certain amount of panache and creativity to manage the job of motherhood, in my humble opinion.

So, last year, I was determined to not be self-deprecatory; I was going to celebrate each of our accomplishments. What resulted was we pretended to be a family of superheroes. Charlotte was Streaker because she is constantly getting naked. I was the Juggler because of my marvelous multi-tasking skills, Danny was the Whirling Dervish, because of his amazing energy and Bil was Captain Conniption because he cheered up the kids just by walking in the door each night. You get the point. Well, personally, I thought it was pretty amusing. Definitely nerdy, but fun.

Last night, I found out that my sister doesn't enjoy our Christmas letters. She said she would prefer to just get the picture, because she doesn't have the time or patience to wade through what she referred to as my "fluff." She was mostly joking, but it still hurt my feelings. This apparently is also why she never reads my blog. I am just too long-winded. She also implied the only reason I write this stuff is because I am lonely. It's true. I am a bit lonely sometimes, (who isn't?) but that really isn't the reason I write. I just like it, which is probably why I majored in English in college and taught writing afterwards. It is cathartic to me, it helps me work through my problems and laugh at the ridiculous in my life. It is also nice to use my brain for a bit.

Now I am second-guessing myself and this year's letter, which we are almost done writing. Maybe I should just forget about the stupid letters and order those picture cards from Walgreens. Are we totally annoying everyone who gets them? Surely, there are other people out there who wouldn't mind a small glimpse into our family life. People who get a small smile, as I do, after reading about the adventures of their friend's family.

Would it just be better to spare the energy and time? The thing is, Bil and I usually have a lot of fun writing the letters. We sit together in front of the computer and brainstorm and laugh at our goofiness. It is a creative outlet for me, something silly and fun to think about, but also something for Bil and I to bond over that is not stressful.

I don't know. I think I will just take my sister off our Christmas letter list and send them to everyone else. I mean, if someone really would prefer not to take the 5 minutes it would take to read it, that is their prerogative, right? This is a tradition we enjoy, so why should I let someone else's opinion ruin that?

18 comments:

a Tonggu Momma said...

I may be biased, but I say keep writing 'em. I say I may be biased because I create a dorky poem every year, sung to the tune of a Christmas carol. Comfort yourself with that whenever someone makes fun of your letters.

allaboutpotential said...

I agree. Of course, I write the Christmas letter in rhyming couplets, so I may also be biased.

However, I have it on very good authority that not only is it considered quite a coup to be mentioned in the annual "Herald", that 1/2 the family start checking their mail box in early December hoping today's the day. I get yelled at if I miss someone off the list & we're up to 50 now.

So, I'd better quit bloggin' and start rhymin'! Keep the letter, let your sister whine. She clearly doesn't "get it".

Quirky Mom said...

Keep sending the letter. Your sister doesn't have to read it, and neither does anyone else, but anyone who IS interested will enjoy it.

If you send me one, I'll read and enjoy it!

Elizabeth Channel said...

Absolutely write one! I'd want to read it!

Maybe your sister is simply a tad jealous at your writing talent and that's why she doesn't read your blog, claims you are 'lonely' and complains about your Christmas letters?

Your blog reaches countless people and is a very real and effective ministry. Don't let anybody downplay that truth.

I'm ready for the letter!

beckbot said...

I love Christmas letters! I know they're impersonal and sometimes too long (mine included) but they are a great way to keep up with friends and what their kids are doing (and not a bad way to jog one's memory about how old those kids are, too). I agree with Quirky Mom... no one is forcing your sister to read your letter. And no one is forcing anyone to read anyone's blog. Or a newspaper. Or a novel. Or a really great book of essays. Readers enjoy reading, writers enjoy writing. Sumo wrestlers enjoy sumo wrestling. To each her own, right? I love blogging and I ADORE YOUR BLOG, PATTY! Motherhood can be very lonely; what is wrong with connecting with other moms and feeling like you're not alone? (end of rant)

lilmomthatcould.com said...

I secretly like Christmas letters. My first thing I do at my moms is read all her cards and letters. That is the time I get updated on the family :)

Natalie said...

I love getting Christmas letters. I have always wanted to write one, but it always seems that I run out of time. I'm lucky if I manage to get a card sent out that even has our signatures on it! Do your letter if it's something you enjoy.
Natalie

Amy Jane said...

Patty,

You answered your own question in the last paragraph of that post. Keep the funny letters comin'! I loved last year's letter, and if someone doesn't want to read it, they don't have to!

goodfountain said...

I echo what everyone else says and keep at the letter. I have never done a Christmas letter. I just write a note with each card. This year, I'm not even doing cards. I'll blog about that soon enough though.

I really like getting the letters I've received though.

Shellie said...

Your sister, while I'm sure she's wonderful, is a grinch. Just send her letter to ME, I will appreciate it. And I don't think you need to justify writing either. It is a way to share and you don't have to be lonely to like it. I think it's just funner to share what I'd write anyways with others. Cause I'm social like that. And no one is being forced to read anything, ya know?

Laura said...

Can I have your sisters address? I am TOTALLY going to send her a REALLY LONG DETAILED letter. And NO photo.

and thanks for "stopping by!" Next time I will offer you a drink..

Kim said...

I think the super hero letter sound cute and was probably fun to read. Your sister might have realized that had she actually read it. I say if it's something you enjoy doing then keep on doing it. I do think most people would enjoy reading what is going on in your lives so long as it's not (as you said) braggy.

I am now thinking about the idea that you are noticing all the spelling mistakes and bad grammar in my comments and blog posts now though. And (see how i started this sentence with and, tsk tsk) as long as you enjoy deciding the correct use of words... maybe you could tell me the difference between affected and effected and when to use one rather than the other. That bugs the heck out of me and I just go back and forth between using the two.

~ April ~ said...

Ditto what everyone else. You are so great with words, and while I hardly know you, I wish I could read your Xmas letter!!

((HUGS))

BTW, the word verification below is "gratch". Sounds an awful lot like grinch!!

kia (good enough mama) said...

It's a tough one. I wouldn't mind getting a Christmas letter if it were simply filling me in on the lives of people I don't see very often. The problem is,I get them from people we see all the time and it just seems like they're bragging. I sense that yours aren't "braggy" though. It sounds like you put a lot of thought and effort into them. Just don't bother sending your sister one! ;)

Kerri said...

I love reading update letters and pictures.....you can send it my way!! I was laughing as I was reading your blog, too!!! Your sister sounds like she is "stink, stank, stunk!" Off the list she goes....

Elizabeth said...

Keep your letters. I always wanted to write one but got hung up on just making them. I love your letters!!!!

Elizabeth said...

Chris chuckled at the fact that you regularly consult the dictionary. He used to read it befor bed. As you can see , I need to consult it more often with my horrible spelling. Your awsome!
Betsy
The post above is mine too.

lonestar said...

I say keep writing them! I agree, I would prefer to get a short letter telling me how folks are doing (and the superhero idea was really cute, btw) than just a picture. Then again, we usually don't get pictures either. Heck, we don't even get cards from most of our family (our family is lame that way, what can I say?).

Honestly, I think it was kind of rude for your sister to say that. I mean, if she doesn't like to read the letter, just don't read it. Why make a point of telling someone you don't like the letter?

It's a fun tradition for ya'll, and one you can work on together, so I would definitely keep doing it.