“Oh no, you don’t write one of those awful things, do you?” The woman and I were discussing the approaching holiday season and enumerating the various chores each of us faced. I admitted I did indeed send out an annual Christmas letter and had been doing so for years. However, to myself and somewhat petulantly I thought, “I do try hard to make mine not awful.”
But let’s face it: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Christmas letters are on their way out. One more tradition supplanted by the internet. If you’re on Facebook or one of the other social media sites, your friends and family have a continual barrage of news coming at them about wonderful you. An annual recap would just be redundant.
I, on the other hand, don’t participate in those things. It’s all I can do to wade through the email each day, deleting sales pitches from every outfit I ever did the smallest bit of business with – and many I’ve never before heard of – hoping in the process that nothing important gets overlooked and that friends understand when I don’t comment on every item they send my way. Wasn’t the digital age supposed to make life easier?
So I send a Christmas letter. As I explained in a post a year ago, the tradition began because our family was, from the start, far-flung. Five cross-country moves and a proliferation of different jobs have swelled the list of people we hope to stay at least nominally in touch with. This is the way we chose to do it.
The letters, beginning in 1973 and with some unexplained gaps, provide a running commentary on our little nuclear family and the times in which we lived. And, hoarder that I am, I’m loath to throw them away. That is why I’ve started to assemble them here on this website for others to read ̶ or not as they wish. It’s definitely a work in progress with just two letters up so far. There’s the one from 1973, written on a typewriter with a key that broke in mid-composition, and this year’s, which was produced on a computer and printed on glitzy holiday paper. More will follow.
What a terrific idea! Your site is becoming a wealth of such interesting tidbits. Can you imagine trying to explain to today’s kids what a typewriter was, or how you managed with a broken N? Or running out of space on the paper?
I had great fun when carrying an old black rotary phone to a career day talk I gave to an elementary school a couple of years ago. “Just stick your finger in one of those holes and, like draw a circle,” said one knowing 4th grader. “My Grandma used to have one of those.”
Ah yes. Typewriters, rotary phones. What other reminders of our approaching anachronism? When I mentioned my husband had worked for “the former Bell System,” the young person who asked, “What’s that?” was much older than a 4th grader.