Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas letters

So I'm working on the annual MacKenzie family Christmas letter. So shoot me.

I've never understood why some people are rabidly against Christmas letters. What could be more in the Christmas spirit than taking some time to review the past year and sharing it with friends and relations? Do people object because the letter isn't written personally to them? But then why is sending a purchased card with only a signature better?

I confess I didn't grow up in a family that did Christmas letters or family pictures for that matter. What I remember is dad bringing home big books of cards. We'd pour through them, and my parents would choose the card they wanted. Then my dad would order them--he worked for the U.S. Senate and I think there was some place to order cards there--which seems like an odd notion now, but I never thought about it then. In some amount of time, he'd bring the cards home, imprinted with my parents' names so they didn't even have to sign them. I do think my mother addressed the envelopes by hand--this was way before word processors.

I turned to the "dark side" when I had young kids. We did the kid Christmas picture, and I tried to write a letter with every card. I had this crazy idea that my friends and relations might actually want to know a little of what was going on in my life. But my life isn't that exciting, and it really isn't that exciting when I'm recounting it for the 10th or 20th or 30th time.

Light bulb moment. Since by then the word processor had been invented, I realized that even though I was a terrible typist, I could write this all once, allowing myself to be more amusing (perhaps) whilst not suffering terminal writer's cramp, and then print it out multiple times.

Yes, I know there are Christmas letters that provoke eye rolling. I've gotten a few. Okay, I may even have sent a few. While most recipients seemed entertained by my efforts, the word did come back through the grapevine that one family member was not a fan. Fine. So I stopped sending this person a letter. No big deal.

And I like getting Christmas letters, even the eye roll ones. I'm extremely disappointed to open a card from a friend to find just a signature. These are people I care about, even if we only correspond once a year. I want to hear what's up in their lives.

Of course, as I'm working on the letter, I just realized that when we replaced the ancient desk top computer, I lost my address list. Hmm. Maybe some lucky folks will escape the MacKenzie family Christmas letter this year.

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