Christmas Letter, The Dilemma

I’m not writing a Christmas letter this year.  Mostly because I just don’t feel like it (and we have no cute family pictures and I don’t have time to try to dress folks up to take one, and let’s face it they’re not going to get out before Christmas anyway) but also because there’s only one person to whom I would send it who doesn’t read either this or the family blog that I occasionally contribute to (none of my good stuff, alas) and my readers are all pretty up on what’s new in the Wonderland.  Right?

The thing is that the only way that I have to get in touch with that one person, who happens to be an old college roommate and best friend (in college, I don’t have time for best friends these days) is a snail-mail address and I really would like to hear from her, find out what’s going on, and I’d like to tell her a little bit about my life.  But to do that I feel like I have to send a card (especially since she sent me one).  Basically, I’d like her to read the blog.

Would it be wrong to send her a card with just a web address?


I just thought of a few other people who I would probably send cards or letters or whatever to who read neither of the blogs but I’m just having a lot of trouble caring.


Oh, and I’d also like to address the issue of the Christmas card.  You know, the  one without the accompanying letter.  The one that occasionally doesn’t even have an actually picture of the senders.  What’s that about?  I like you enough to spend 50 cents or whatever it is these days to send you a card wishing you a Merry Christmas, but not enough to actually tell you a little something about what’s going on in my life?

I’ve heard some people (ok, I’ve read some blogs where people) complain(ed) about the overly informative Christmas letter.  And I get that it’s not necessary to inform your old college roommate of the size shoes that your kids are wearing, but at least tell me what the kid’s name is.  Too much information I can work with.  I’ll just stop reading if I’m that bored, but throw me a bone here, give me something.  Why did you even bother sending the thing if you don’t want me to know anything about you?

At least let me know how the witness protection program is working out for you.


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristina
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 22:26:54

    I’m all about pictures. We did one this year that I will be posting next week.

    My favorite letters are the bragfest letters. Really? Your 6 year-old is in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize? He really is amazing.

  2. melanie
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 22:32:14

    I think they send them so that you will have their address. So that if something happens that you need to write them a letter about they know you can because you have their address. I know that seems really lame and weird but I am pretty sure that’s why. Not that it matters, its still super dumb!

  3. LisAway
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 00:26:39

    We’ve only received ONE card so far this year. I’m sort of glad because then there’s a little less guilt because I never send any, but I DO love getting them.

    I like updates and pictures, of course, but I really think that sometimes people just send a card so you know that you’re on their mailing list. You know how people sometimes say “We exchange Christmas cards” or something like that? I think it’s just a symbol of friendship. And also, those are the people that feel they’re doing pretty well if they just get something in the mail.

    And that’s more than I do.

  4. LisAway
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 00:29:49

    Also, about the braggy letters. I think people should remember that this letter is sent to Grandma and Grandpa so they can show their friends, as well as the families friends and aquaintances. Forgive them!

    And plus, some kids just ARE amazing. I actually just remembered that the main reason I don’t send Christmas cards/letters is because I wouldn’t be able to think of anything mundane about my kids and would be forced to go on and on and on about how amazing they are. 🙂 Although I suppose I COULD tell shoe sizes. . .

  5. julie
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 08:22:14

    we did the pictures this year and no letter. I do remember getting a family history for the whole year and this was 8-10 pages of yearly stuff for all the kids. We mocked it alot.

  6. Alison Wonderland
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 09:04:39

    Kristina- I wasn’t trying to brag about my six year old. I’m just trying to be honest.

    Mel- I guess there may be something to that, that is the only way I have that college roommate’s address.

    Lisa- Coming up with something that won’t make the rest of us jealous of you really must be hard, thanks for sparing us all that.

    Julie- 8-10 pages?! A Christmas letter is like a resume. It should NEVER be longer than one page. I’ll allow front and back if there are photos printed on the page as well, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go.

  7. Julie
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 09:49:59

    I sent out my own Christmas letter this year. You, however, declined to give me your email, so no letter for you!

  8. Jen
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 10:45:34

    The second Christmas after we were married was the last time I did the card thing. Every year I wonder if THIS will be the year I start up again, and every year it isn’t.

    And I agree. When I get cards with nothing but a “Merry Christmas” I look at it briefly, and then chuck it into the garbage. Yes, I’m grateful they thought of me, but it’s just a piece of paper, so why keep the card around?

    Anyway, you have my complete support on this one. Just ignore the pressure – that’s what I do!

  9. madhousewife
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 11:02:30

    I’m a fan of Newsletters. I don’t always read them because sometimes I’m not interested, but I like that if I am interested, I have something to read. Pictures are a bonus. Receiving just a card is fine–I guess I assume it means you want to keep in touch, even if we have nothing to say to each other.

  10. madhousewife
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 11:16:41

    I thought starting a family blog (since the vast majority of my friends and family do not read my ‘real’ blog, nor do they even know about it, nor do I want them to) would be a great way to keep my extended family and friends abreast on goings-on so I wouldn’t feel all this pressure to do regular letters and e-mails, but it turns out that most of my family and friends don’t use the interwebs much. Even people my age seem to be really uncomfortable with the idea of visiting a blog, let alone commenting on one. I find it odd. Grandparents, sure, but 30-somethings? What’s that about?

  11. E
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 11:28:57

    Traditionally, I think the Christmas Card was really about wishing people a Merry Christmas. And by that I mean sending a Christ centered card and greeting. It seems sort of formal and not particularly meaningful to me, but I’m not judging those to whom it does mean something. I hang them up no matter what and if it’s a pretty picture I enjoy it.

    But I do miss the family picture and letter if they are not included because I do like to see the family and I do want to hear what’s going on-even if it’s braggy. And while I’m making requests I want you in the picture not just your kids.

    On the other hand, I heard a piece on the radio about a Jesuit Priest who is campaigning against family picture cards. His point being that you shouldn’t be replacing the “holy family” with your own on a Christmas card. I thought it was a valid point and one that I might take to heart next year. What I didn’t appreciate was the judgment and condescension. Can’t you share your opinion with me, one that I might agree with once I’ve heard it, without accusing me of being an infidel in the process.

    Isn’t this supposed to be about sharing the gift of love?

  12. the letter Bee
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 13:59:37

    I did one of those Christmas cards where you have a photo and it says “Happy Holidays, Love Que and Brittany” on it. (And it has a blue gingham border with a snowman on it.) Although, I also put “Please visit our adoption blog at” at the bottom. Maybe you can do something like that?

  13. dollie
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 16:54:54

    I just send the Christmas cards pictures and very short to the point… Haha you are right though if you read your blog there is no reason to update.

  14. zstitches
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 17:05:09

    Well I am going to be the rebel here and say that I remember reading some Miss-Mannersy or Martha Stewart thing several years ago that said that the tradition is a pretty card, perhaps a little personal note, and a signature. Newsletters are a modern innovation, and not really within the bounds of traditional etiquette — to be blunt, they are or at least *were* considered tacky. I don’t remember the rationale for that – maybe it is because a handwritten, personalized greeting is so much less anonymous than a mass-mailed newsletter. Or perhaps the assumption is that you will have kept in touch with close friends enough that they shouldn’t need to get your news from a once-a-year letter.

    That said, I do love getting newsletters and reading what’s going on in friends’ lives, especially if they don’t do email or keep a blog, and sometimes that *is* the only contact I have with them, but I still value it. But if you only get a newsletter and not a card, you can’t do any of those cute card-display ideas; newsletters don’t look nearly as pretty on a mantel. So I always do a card and then slip the newsletter/photos inside. (When I say always, I mean in the four or five times in the twelve years of my married life when I’ve actually managed to get a card sent out.)

    I do think that blogs and the internet are upturning all the old traditions, and while I love pretty paper cards and hope they don’t die out entirely, this year I decided my blog would have to suffice, and if no one reads it, that’s their problem. Maybe I ought to do a newslettery post, though, since you’d have to glean through a lot of posts to get much news from my blog. But actually that’s okay with me — if it means one less thing for me to have to do before Christmas.


    I know this comment has turned post-length, but I just remembered that Judith Martin (Miss Manners) put out a book a while back defending some aspects of the evolution of American manners. I heard her talk about the book, and she said that since Americans tend to be very mobile, they have to be able to make friends quickly, so some of the older rules for friendship that were practical in communities where everyone stayed in place just don’t work when families often uproot every several years. I’ve meant to get the book, and if I do I’ll have to see if she mentions Christmas letters.

  15. bythelbs
    Dec 20, 2008 @ 11:23:07

    I like the cards that aren’t even signed. Just a card in an envelope with a return address.

  16. Alison @ hairlinefracture
    Dec 20, 2008 @ 15:54:10

    I have never considered doing a newsletter. Too much pressure to be funny but not braggy. I send picture cards–but not this year; I don’t have time to get the kids dressed up and sit next to each other without anyone crying. Some people send me cards without pictures, and I like the cards, so that’s what I’m doing this year–I guess just to let them know I haven’t forgotten to send them a card. I don’t really have anyone I need to update, though–most of the people on my list see or talk to me enough as it is!

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