Most years I compose a Christmas letter to put in with the cards I send. I only send to people out of town which includes both friends and family. Local friends and neighbors don’t receive my cards and letters because:
A. I don’t want to bore them with stories they’ve already heard.
B. I’m too lazy to send out anymore than I feel I have to.
C. I’m too cheap.
D. I’m sure there is a D but I can’t think of it right now. (Maybe D is because I just forget.)
I’m up to about 50 mail outs this year (I don’t know how it happens but the list grows exponentially over the course of 12 months) and even though I include the letter I always try to write a short personal piece in each one. I know I always feel special when I get a card with a little something scribbled in it.
To cut down on costs (I’m Scrooge-like in that way) I purchase my cards right after Christmas the year before. There’s always an ample assortment left to choose from and I love a good bargain. Only problem is I forget how many I have on hand from one year to the next. This results in a huge surplus which isn’t all bad since the cards have no expiration date. Their shelf life is eternal.
Before I begin my task I take the wall calendar down in the kitchen and use it as a guideline for the highlights of the past year. I remember one year when the most outstanding event was having some dead trees taken out…I think that was surely one of the years I skipped the essay.
As I generally get my cards out early, it’s always interesting to read the responses to my letter. Some folks are very complimentary and tell me how much they enjoy my ramblings. Others don’t comment at all. This is fine because I have a few who have told me that they “hate” Christmas letters in general (not so much mine in particular). So appropriately I’m insistent on sending them one of mine…all in the spirit of Christmas.
I can, to some extent, relate to the people who prefer not to take delivery of “the letter.” One of my cousins repeatedly pens a poem which I find quite irritating. He and his family travel extensively over the course of each year and he goes into excruciating detail about, not only, all the sights they see but also includes a description of each and every person they meet. Like I care. (Besides, his rhyming prowess leaves a lot to be desired.)
Since I don’t see many of my card recipients for years at a time, or maybe never, I appreciate their correspondence coming my way. It’s always a pleasure to get caught up.
And while it is time consuming to gather all their thoughts and incorporate the happenings of their past year in a letter I’m certain they must find it rewarding, as do I.
In order to keep from being too long-winded I try to limit my words to one page…like that’s gonna happen. Anyone who knows me knows better than that. But I do try. It just depends on how many mishaps manage to make a memory. I like to include them as well as the fun facts because I wouldn’t be sharing a true picture of my year if I left out the calendar calamities. After all, everyone has their downs as well as their ups. That being the case, I consistently use festive stationery so if the letter gets too boring my friends can always gaze at the pretty paper for relief. More often than not I end up with an epistle but that way I know I haven’t left one single thing out. Perish the thought!
Incidentally, I’ve progressed to using mailing labels instead of hand writing addresses. For years, that was just the way things were done. I’d buy a box of 18 cards and invariably screw up at least 3 of the matching envelopes. Then trying to find replacements hardly ever happened. With the advent of computers it’s simple to print the sticky tag and just slap it on. While I am computer challenged to a great extent this is one of those things I’ve mastered. Here again, only problem is I forget how I did it from one year to the next!
And so it is written:
When you send out your cards
Be sure to include a note.
It’s really not so hard.
What’s important is what you wrote!
Originally published in the December 2013 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette.