I have already seen one blog entry about Christmas letters. In her entry, "Spare Me the Details. Please," Pandionna writes:
I absolutely despise those “holiday newsletters” that some people print out and include with their cards. How utterly egotistical to think that Christmas cards are a venue for announcing Junior’s first poopie, Sister’s dance recital, Big Sister’s appearance on the honor roll, Wonder Mom’s new Etsy shop, or Daddy Dear’s new car. And heaven help us, please, cease and desist with discussion of Grampa’s gallbladder surgery or Grandma’s inadvertent overdose on Ex-Lax.
It's like trying to convince people not to support the Boy Scouts of America by buying a tree in their lot because of their discriminatory policies, or not to drop coins in the Salvation Army bucket because in an interview the head of the Salvation Army said that parents of gay children should be put to death.
But this isn't a rant about those issues.
It is beyond me why the subject of "holiday newsletters" brings up such vitriol. 'Tis the season to be jolly, after all and why be so incredibly angry about a letter that you can choose to read or not. Nobody is holding a gun to your head to make you read it.
As Pandionna continues
The way I see it, Christmas cards are to extend season’s greetings, a way of saying hello to people to let them know you are thinking of them even if you don’t see them as much as you’d like to. They’re not a platform for attention-whoring narcissism. We have Facebook for that.
Well, Pandionna, not everybody has Facebook. What I hate are the cards that come with someone's name preprinted on the bottom. Someone I haven't seen in many years, who writes not one single word of greeting, shares not one thing about their life, and doesn't even take the time to sign the card itself. But I don't know the circumstances of the person and I dunno...maybe they are paralyzed and can't write and so get someone to address a card for them. So I don't judge. I am just sad that the person who is extending seasons greetings, who used to be a very good friend, chooses not to even say "hi!" to me on the card he takes the time to send.
Here is what is involved in writing my yearly letter. I spend time going back over the year, trying to remember the highlights, I choose photos that I think are interesting and I write something about each one in the family. Some people who get my letters want to know how my mother is, some wonder what the kids are doing these days, some don't know anybody in the family but me, but like to hear about our travel, or live vicarious through the kids' adventures. Then I design a web page and write the letter, including all the photos. In previous years, I had it professionally printed and that involved a paste-up and a humongous bill from the printer. In other words, I put a lot of work into it. It is a 2-3 day job to get it all done and posted. It is one of the fun things I do each year and there is a piece of me which feels guilty for posting it on line these days, but with the price of postage and the number of people I send it off to, it would cost more now than it used to cost to pay the printer...and it looks prettier because on line I can use color photos.
I do it because I love it and I love letting people I know something about our lives over the past year. Just today, while writing this letter, I received emails from folks who said "Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas letter/life adventure w/me. I always look forward to getting it." "Thank you for the Christmas letter Bev. Always fun to read." "Love the annual newsletter!"
I succumbed to all those protests from annual letter haters one year and did not write the letter. I got lots of complaints, so I continue to do it.
The reason why it bothers me so much to read entries like Pandionna's is that if you don't like the things, you don't even have to unfold the enclosed letter. Just stick the card up on your mantle and toss the letter. In my case, you don't have to click on the link.
But if you enjoy reading about our life, then go...enjoy...and thank you for taking the time to read it, and for letting me know that you look forward to getting it each year.
I have a confession. I get lots of these letters over the Christmas season. There are some that I look forward to each year and some I don't bother reading. But I appreciate each and every one of them, whether I read them or not, because I know the work...and the love...that goes into each one. I don't consider them "attention-whoring narcissism" but more the desire to reach out and touch friends across the miles, and across the years.
But I always get upset hearing from the guy who was one of our best friends until he dropped out of sight about 20 years ago, who sends a card every year and never includes one single word of greeting. Just writes his name. Pretty card, but I want to know what he is doing these days, not that he is still able to write.To each her own, I guess.