I guess the straw that broke the camel’s back was Becki’s annual Christmas letter last year.
I went to college with Becki, performed in shows with her, and managed to maintain a long distance relationship for close to half a century even though she’s always lived in the deep South and we’ve seen each other but once since graduation. Yet we’ve stayed in touch through ongoing birthday and holiday greetings.
At Christmas our family always sends a card. Sometimes a poignant one, sometimes a funny one; but still, just a card. Becki, on the other hand, sends a two to four page single-spaced letter complete with photos of her entire family including pets. And she tells the lucky recipients of this darling missive everything — absolutely everything — that’s happened to them during the past year. Everything.
Here are but a few snippets from Becki’s 2016 holiday letter, which my husband has come to affectionately call the “Dead Sea Scrolls.”
“Cameron had some serious health issues at the beginning of the year after he quit his teaching job and spent some time in the hospital, vomiting daily.”
“With Barry’s knee out of whack, there was no summer vacation.”
“Becki’s dear friend, Sara and Cameron’s Godmother both had a slow, painful death.”
“Maggie, the big dog, attended obedience school, the only one in class NOT to show what she had learned.”
Ah, but here is the piece de resistance, and the reason I want you all to swear off holiday letters.
“Mikey, our oldest turtle, passed away during all those horrible rains that caused so much flooding. That leaves Shredderette, learning how to live as a widow.”
She followed that charming bit of news with:
“Wishing Peace and Joy in 2017!”
I wanted to throw up.
So I am hereby declaring war on holiday letters. Nobody likes them. I don’t care what lies your relatives tell you, they hate them! Nobody wants to read page after page about how brilliant your kids are (compared to those dummies they harbor under their roof). Nobody needs the gory details of your operation. And we really don’t want to know about anyone’s bodily fluids.
I’m begging you, just go to your local store and buy a nice box of fat little snowmen, Santa Clauses, or Hanukkah Menorah designs, and send those. Or go online and send e-cards. But please, can the holiday letters!
I thought I’d write this now at the beginning of the month, allowing plenty of time for you to come to your senses and rethink the whole holiday letter idea. To drive the point home even further, I’ve designed the Mann Family Holiday Letter for 2017. We intend to send it to everyone we know; then if we still have friends, next year we’ll go the Hallmark route.
This coming holiday season, from you we don't want much,
A greeting card, a phone call, or maybe just your touch,
If you truly want to give us more, we’ll take a handmade sweater,
But we’re begging you with all we’ve got, don't send your Christmas letter.
We know your kids are brilliant, they're after all your kin,
We know your Johnny is a whiz and plays first violin,
And Susie paints and dances, and Joey's learned the potty
And Harold leads his brown belt class in juvenile karate.
Please God forget the medical, it's not that we don't care,
But we want to drink our eggnog, not hear about the hair
That's growing from Aunt Martha's mole, this doesn't leave us elated
Nor learning that your hernia had nearly strangulated.
We know you have the brightest kids, we know your pets are smart,
We know you lost that added weight exercising for your heart,
We know your son likes science, we know your child's a dancer,
We know she'll get to Broadway while he finds a cure for cancer.
So in this time of joy and love, it pains us to rebuke,
But if you send this stuff again, my family's gonna puke,
We never liked you all that much, your daughter or your son,
So cut the crap, don't mail the thing, God bless us every one!
Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 16 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She has written three books: one about the towns and villages in our area, one about growing up in the ’50s, and one that recounts untold vetera ns’ stories from WWII to the present. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 401539-7762.