They are an anachronism, those once-a-year recaps of a family’s activities. And since I increasingly feel the same myself – anachronistic, that is – I’ll keep on sending them as long as there are friends and family members to receive them. It’s a habit I am unable to break. Furthermore, some of my intended recipients are enablers. When I occasionally think, “Perhaps this is the year to stop this silly practice,” along will come a card with the message, “Sure looking forward to your Christmas letter.”
So I keep doing it, year after year, even in spite of a most inauspicious start that should have served as a warning: The “n” key on the typewriter broke mid-way through the first letter I was writing, and I had to mark in the offending consonant by hand. I should have taken that as an omen.
And yes, I know I could be avoiding all this by participating in Facebook or Twitter or any number of other social media sites. But my feeling is that once a year of self-indulgent bloviating from me is plenty.
There are even some demented souls who have suggested I put my accumulated letters in a book. So who’s demented now? Here it is: more than 40 years of one family’s holiday missives, give or take a few missing ones. What became of them? I know I sent Christmas cards every year, and I am sure I’d always include a note because, originating as Ed and I did from opposite sides of the continent, there was always one branch of the family tree that required an update.
So what happened between 1975 and 1979? And where is 1981? Those were years when we were trying to make a big old wreck of a house somewhat habitable. Were we just too exhausted to include a letter with the card? In 1982, I switched to smaller paper. Was that reflective of a demanding new job? But five years later I was back to larger sheets, an indication of what? A relaxed new lifestyle? Hardly. It’s a mystery – and one that could have been avoided if instead of a haphazard collection of holiday correspondence, I’d kept a journal like all writers are advised to do.
Feel free to peruse these letters if you can stand it. I’ll keep adding a new one each year as long as I can stand to do it.