On Consuming Holiday Letters


Like trudging through deep snow, I read all the way through a lengthy holiday missive that landed in our mailbox the other day, wading through names and pictures of people I don’t know, distant relatives of my wife with mundane news of the year – changes at home, trips taken, family updates with no one forsaken. I longed for a black sheep, and a martini well shaken.

Bored stiff, I sat and consumed the entire bland thing in full. Am I a glutton for punishment? Apparently so. But more than that, I swallowed it all because some soul took the time to write it, dig up our address, pony up a first-class stamp, and put it in the mail. And that’s no trifling thing in these trolling times. Makes me wish I got more letters. Even if from total strangers. Or black sheep.

Write soon.


- Avoid overused expressions like like, like really, like WTF, like WHEN WILL THIS WORD EVER DIE?!, and great, awesome, disgrace, you got this...

- Aim for a length of 1.5–2 pages. Anything less is too brief (why bother) and anything more is too much of you and yours. Narcissism is out, empathy is in.

- If you traveled somewhere stellar (Antarctica), include pictures. If you went somewhere so-what (Las Vegas), please no pics.

- Christmas is a loaded word, not always cool. If you fear using it, go with Yule. It's coming back.

- Don’t drink rum and eggnog when writing your letter, drink whisky. Instead of relaxed and nostalgic, you’ll have the edge to be more candid. People love honesty. Even more than pie.

- If you have nothing of import to report, make something up. Be amusing. It’s goes down even better than honesty. Example: Mom moved in with us and has started feeding vodka to the cat. We may have to give her away (the cat).

- Be positive in tone, but throw in some negativity. If Teddy robbed a Christmas tree lot and is cooling his heels in the hoosegow, say so. Troubles humanize us. And schadenfreude is a guilty pleasure we all enjoy. Share it.

- Don’t talk about work unless you backed over your boss with a forklift and killed him. Nobody cares.

- Proof the letter closelyyy. Grammar is like gravity – disrespecting the rules can make you fall on your ass.

- Even if it’s April, it’s never too late to write a beyond-great holiday letter. Send me one. Have a cool Yule!

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