Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas letters: Love them, or hate them?

It's difficult for me to simply send out Christmas cards with only a signature on them. I either try to write a personal note on the blank side of the card, or enclose a Christmas letter... full-knowing that at least half the population hates them. And apparently with good reason.

Personally, I like to receive Christmas letters, so long as they don't go into too much detail. For instance, if you name each one of your fifteen grandchildren whom I've never met and tell their accomplishments in detail, I may drift off or go into the speed-reading mode. But I do enjoy reading news of friends and relatives that I perhaps don't see often.

I also like receiving photograph cards, where folks select a picture of themselves, their family, their home, whatever, and have that made into a card. It's unique, and it gives me something to keep if I so desire. Cliff and I have done cards like this many times. I'm sure we ended up in some trash cans, but that's OK. At least everyone got a look at us first, standing there with our cows or our tractors or our motorcycle. One year it was a turkey in the picture with us.

This year I wasn't going to send out cards; but a week ago I hurriedly composed a letter, doing my best to keep it brief, and started sending cards out with the letter enclosed. I didn't send them to people who see us all the time, or people who I know read my blog (Lord knows they already know more about our lives than they ever wanted to).

Here's what I wrote:

To friends and family:

Winter has settled in with a vengeance, but what can you expect in Missouri?

2008 has seen some big changes for me and Cliff. We bought a used mobile home, set it up in the pasture “out behind the barn” (I used to sing a song by that title) and moved in last July. I now have my first-ever dishwasher, central air, soft water (thanks to Culligan), and a decent view. We have sidewalks and a garage back here. Who could ask for more?

God was watching out for everyone, because a week after we moved out of our house, Cliff’s sister moved into it. She was coming here from Wisconsin and needed a place to live. This way, she didn’t have to make any sudden, permanent moves, and our old house is well looked after.

Because of the moving activity, my horse hasn’t been ridden much this year. I hope to correct that situation next year.

Cliff and I ride the motorcycle as often as the weather and his job permit us. Our favorite trip this year was to Arkansas, where we rode some of the most crooked roads we’ve every been on, hairpin turns and all. It was at the peak of autumn color, and totally breathtaking. We’re still talking about a motorcycle trip to Colorado one of these days.

After New Year’s, Cliff will start working four ten-hour days at work, which will give him three-day weekends. He’s wanted this for a long time, so he can hardly wait. In this economy, we’re thankful for his job and all the blessings we have.

Our son, Jim, is still in Georgia; we usually get to see him and his youngest in July for a few days; his oldest two children are grown up (21 and 23), and they visit us often. They both tell me not to expect any great-grandchildren from them any time soon, if ever; we’ll see about that. Our daughter, Rachel, lives less than two miles away; so we see her and her family often.

We make an effort to enjoy every day, and that’s our wish for you, too.

As I send these out, though, I always wonder if the recipients sigh to themselves and think, "Oh no, another Christmas letter."

Do you like such letters? What say you?

By the way, I'm listening to Johnny Mathis singing Christmas songs right this minute. If you're having trouble getting into the spirit of the season, listen to Johnny sing "Oh, Holy Night". Or even "Blue Christmas". What a voice!


loopymamain06 said...

yours is the nicest i've seen in a while, donna, short nice and to the point...I read one, once that had so much bad news in it, I was crying by the end of it. I cringed for years when i would get one, but i don't get many any more.

DesLily said...

love, love love Johnny singing anything! lol

yep I like to get the letters. I used to write them some time ago, but haven't sent cards for some time now..

madcobug said...

Sometimes I write a few sentences in certain cards.I like to read a few lines in a card. I think you have a great idea to just write a letter and send to all along with your card. Merry Christmas to you and Cliff. Helen

Lindie said...

I always get a card from a cousin who writes the best letters. Her life is so interesting. I also get a letter from an old friend who tends to write a bragging letter, even writing of herself by name instead of the simpler I.

Ora said...

Christmas letter are ok..what determines which are best is the person sending them...we get one letter each year...telling of where, when, how, and who they have had visit or have visited.(but never us even tho they pass within two miles of our house LOL)...never any news of family except...we are fine...all are good..then you find out the dau is a hooker...the son is getting a divorce...and the other one is a drug dealer LOLOLOL...so much for honesty...I liked your letter...nice and simple...but let us know where you are in your life right now...Merry Christmas...hugs ... Ora

Pamela said...

I think that letter is VERY nicely written! I've gotten some where the authors try very unsuccessfully to add humor into them, or are on the border of bragging about their lives. But, yours just tells it like it is.
You have had a good year, haven't you?

Sandra said...

I like christmas letters to a point. My daughter in law sent us one and it was just for us .... and that was the best christmas letter I have ever gotten. She is a wonderful letter writer... I don't like the ones that just seem like a lot of braging on their kids or trips and the great life they live though.... Yours is nice

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I send a letter out every year and will put it in my journal tomorrow if you want to take a look. You've inspired me. Those that I seldom keep in touch with tell me that they look forward to it. this year I wasn't going to send one out, but I figured people need to know what's happened in my life anyway. I like your letter and looked for something I didn't already know and that is that those two grown grandchildren are not going to make you a great grandma anytime soon. You are right, we probably know each other more than some. 'On Ya'-ma

Hollie said...

Well, I have to say that I LOVE CHRISTMAS CARDS, & I would love a Christmas letter too...but I have never received one. Your's was written very nicely.

Hollie said...

Well, I have to say that I LOVE CHRISTMAS CARDS, & I would love a Christmas letter too...but I have never received one. Your's was written very nicely.

Lisa said...

I really like Christmas letters... I like ones that are simple and to the point... LOL which is what I cannot seem to do in the ones I write nor in my journal... I have to re-write mine several times to get it trimmed down and keep it nice and short. I try to include honesty about the hard times and good news about the good things and usually I gloss over anything that was too terrible. If the year was a bad one I don't say too much about it or I skip the letter that year LOL. I love sending a few lines in a card too... but often just sign our names and a short line. Hugs,

Paula said...

Your letter is very nice and to the point. I dislike the ones that brag on and on about kids and grandkids when you know everything is not that rosy.

Celeste said...

I have never received one. I would not mind it at all.

Becky said...

I usually write an update letter every year. Over the years they have grown shorter and shorter...until this year I just skipped it. Ha! But really it was because nothing all that interesting happened this year. Personally I LOVE newsletters or notes included with cards. Often that is the only time I hear from certain friends so the letter is my only source of info on what they are up to. We have one friend who does some type of update letter every year - it is never the same format twice in a row but is alway hilariously funny. Could be a poem, or a photo essay, or a newspaper, or written in the form of a TV drama script. She is amazingly creative and I look forward to their christmas card every year more than any others. Shhh. Don't tell my other friends. LOL