In defense of Christmas Letters

I look forward to opening a Christmas card that includes a yearlong family update.

I know a lot of people think Christmas letters are stupid, filled with enhanced positivity, but so what? You don’t really want your friends or family members to send bad news, do you?

You can joke about how perfect Cousin Jane’s third grandchild is, or how neighbor Joe just got that fabulous promotion, or how wonderful your high school bowling teammates new house is or how your friend’s kid got into prestigious Harvard…
When you know that the baby’s mama has yet to marry and that the promotion is in name and demands only with no financial benefits and that the house is really a money pit and that they left out the “lawn and landscaping” part of the Harvard Lawn and Landscaping School of Grass Design.

But we can’t be upset that people want to spin their lives in an optimistic way, can we? Gees, can you imagine the cesspool of muck and mire we’d wade through if we all focused on the bad shit?

Thank goodness Cousin Jane is excited about that third baby! That baby’s going to have enough going against it; the least we can do is support its grandmother’s enthusiasm.
We should celebrate in the successes they choose to share regardless of the reasons they chose to do so.

I also hear complaints about Christmas Letters that either
a) tell you what you already know, or
b) tell you what you have no desire to know, or
c) tell you stuff you couldn’t care less about
That’s all you, buddy.
Yes, I get updates from people I keep in touch with regularly. You know what I do? I read and smile and file the note away in my Christmas Letter archives to dig out in a few years and reminisce.
But I’m sappy like that.
And yes, I get updates from people I barely know and sometimes wonder why they’d share. But silly me, I appreciate the openness of learning a little bit about their family.
And yes, I get updates from people that list their daily minutia. Things that I no longer consider newsworthy…. been there, done that. Right?
Except this letter is not about me. Or you. Let them share.

I admit to having written and sent Christmas Letters before.
I send cards to a lot of people. I want a lot of people to know that I’m thinking about them and wish them the best during the holiday season and into the New Year. Sometimes I even want to share family news, graduations, engagements, etc. I hope they don’t hold those announcements against me.

Mostly I miss expecting an update and not getting one.

I have noticed that a lot more people are ordering and sending the photo cards. I keep those, too. I love to see the families grow, the kids come (and sometimes the spouses go), the pets join, the new house or where they went that year for vacation.
But those cards often lack anything other than an image. Have you noticed? The sentiments, and even the names sometimes, are preprinted. Funny how something as personal as a photo of your family could also be so completely void of personalization.

Anyway, I say kudos to Christmas Letters. If you send them, thank you. If you don’t, that’s okay, too—I just hope that everyone can find a little joy in the letters they do receive.
From successful potty-training to soccer team awards to being upgraded from third shift to regular hours to finally finishing that deck you started four years ago to planting that retirement garden (with the help of your friend’s kid), I congratulate you and thank you for sharing.


Needed an image, thought this was fun– “letter” related, so it counts!
And old by the price of that stamp (and postmark date, of course).





About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
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4 Responses to In defense of Christmas Letters

  1. Geri says:

    So MaryFran, I WRITE an Xmas letter. Truly, almost every year. I have friends and family on four (maybe five) continents. It is short, not too terribly congratulatory and sometimes a bit thought-laden. But, I send it because it is my one communique with most per year.

    And I LOVE getting them. I do not open Xmas cards until Xmas Eve, then, when the hustle and hub-bub of Xmas is done, I sit back with a big cocktail, read everything, look at the photos, and give them their due. Otherwise I’d be opening them in a mad rush of doing 50 million other things.

    So maybe I am unusual. But that’s my tradition.

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