Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: joraemi on November 07, 2012, 08:34:13 AM

Title: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: joraemi on November 07, 2012, 08:34:13 AM
I noted in the other thread about sending holiday cards with photos that someone mentioned disliking the letters that come in them touting all of the year's accomplishments, etc.

I'm curious if others feel the same?  We have sent out our "newsy note" every year for eons.  It states how old the kids are, what each has been up to over the year, important events in our family life, what DH and I have been doing, etc.  We include a photo of the kids every year with their names/ages and the date on the back. I have a pretty large extended family and don't communicate with most of them except at the holidays, so I always thought of it as a way to share what has gone on in our family for the past year. I don't do FB and other types of social media, so if I don't tell them in the yearly letter, they don't know!  lol

Now I wonder if folks are putting us in that category of "annoying letter telling us how great you all are" kind of thing. I certainly don't want that!

So - What is the general consensus - is the newsy note a good thing or a bad thing?  Outdated tradition, perhaps?
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Harriet Jones on November 07, 2012, 08:47:47 AM
For me, it all depends on the tone of the letter.  Sometimes they can come across as "look at how super awesome we are, aren't you jealous?".   Most of the time, the letters are fine.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: #borecore on November 07, 2012, 08:51:44 AM
I find them funny above all.

It's sweet to see that someone is so proud of his/her family, but just like we're our own worst critics, I think the Christmas letter turns us into our own biggest horn-tooters.  ;D

I've read dozens of these every year, mostly from people like my mom's college friends we've seen twice in the last 30 years. Aside from the rare truly entertaining narrative, I question why people would think near-strangers would want to know whether Bobby got A's and B's or B's and C's, exactly which softball tournament Jenny got her first home run in and the date, etc. People who want this level of detail are probably in regular contact with you anyway. Keep it simple and less than 2 double-spaced (1 single-spaced) page!

It's good to include a photo, with names and ages on the back. Mom also gets a half-dozen a year where she has to guess who's who!

To your last point, I don't know if they're outdated or if we just see fewer of them now that my mom's friends are grandparents or parents of young adults, and my friends are single or have kids under 5 (pics please, but "accomplishment" stories ring kind of hollow beyond basic, adorable milestones). I would guess that things like Facebook make them less common.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Jones on November 07, 2012, 08:53:19 AM
It definitely depends.

One of my aunts does a "crossword puzzle" with her newsy note--a note, not a book. It's just fun and doesn't come across as bragging at all, more of a "getting to know you from across the country" thing. However, one of my uncles is a bragger and his lengthy letters come across as such. It really depends on how it's written. Throw in a few slight negatives and downplay a bigger positive and it's a lot more humble than My daughter got a scholarship to Harvard, but chose to go to XYZ University instead due to (political rant). My other daughter won the gold medal in turtle paddling, and a silver in otter fishing; she'll do better next year. My son earned a lot of money over the summer and donated it all to Orphan Shoes Charity before joining Nonprofit Missions. My wife and I earned a lot of money ourselves, won't say how much but we bought a new house and all rights to the song "Happy Birthday." And I got to work with (big Hollywood producer) on a super secret project.

I will also mention that I feel sad when my grandma's letter comes out and it mentions about three quarters of the cousins accomplishments. It leaves the rest of us going "What about what I did? What did I do to get left out?" But that's really a whole other situation in itself.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: lowspark on November 07, 2012, 09:01:58 AM
Since I'm the one who mentioned disliking these on the other thread I'll add my comments here as well.

I've gotten some over the years that go into great detail about stuff that I simply don't care about. Unless your kid was in the Little League World Series, I honestly don't need to know much about his LL career other than that he played. I really don't want to know about your daughter's ballet or piano recital or your surgeries or your husband's promotion.

<snip>
People who want this level of detail are probably in regular contact with you anyway.

This, exactly. A very brief synopsis of the year is ok, but I'd lean more toward a half page at most.

Now, if one member of the family is a talented writer who can take the mundane and convert it to an entertaining essay, then ok. But it really needs to be engaging and/or funny. Otherwise, the highlights are enough.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Mal on November 07, 2012, 09:04:10 AM
I've always liked that tradition - ever since I watched the very first Simpsons episode ;) unfortunately, it's not a known tradition in my home country, so it would probably come across as weird if I started writing a holiday letter :(

But I do think it's a very nice thing to do, especially for older relatives.

Those who object on the grounds that they do not wish to share other people's happiness... well, that's just jealousy, and as uncalled for as it would be on an occasion where you meet those people face to face.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Luci on November 07, 2012, 09:33:58 AM
I enjoy them, usually, although I really don't much care who attended your wife's family reunion, or the bridge scores and who was there. I care that you have back surgery, but I really don't need details on what was done or a day by day recovery list. I'm pretty good at skimming.

I also just send one double spaced page with maybe a couple of my favorite vacation pictures on the page (without us, but that's just that I hate all pictures of me) . One year we took a 3 week trip though the southwest US. I ended up with something like, "We toured the southwest for 3 weeks and saw mountains and red rocks and rivers and more red rocks and deserts with cacti in near the red rocks. Best vacation ever!" That was the trip that took up 2 albums, covered 13 states and 180 pages of pictures!
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Girlie on November 07, 2012, 09:41:38 AM
It's never been "done" in my family or social group, but I've seriously been thinking about incorporating it, just because my husband's family is all older, and mostly across the country from us, and I think they would enjoy some basic, "Hey, we're alive, and doing okay" information besides just the traditional Christmas card.

Of course, we have no MAJOR milestones to mention, just that we've settled happily into our first year of marriage, our jobs are going well, we're looking to the future, and we are the proud parents of two Maine Coon cats. I think we can probably fit that onto the blank side of a traditional card, though.
...That wouldn't be too much, would it? Now I'm not so sure...  :-\
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: lowspark on November 07, 2012, 09:44:43 AM
I think that's perfect Girlie! It's exactly what I mean by the highlights. Interesting to read, catches me up on what's going on with people I care about, but doesn't get into long stories with unnecessary details.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Jones on November 07, 2012, 09:45:01 AM
Girlie, that would be perfect, and you need to include a picture of the cats.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Bijou on November 07, 2012, 09:58:56 AM
I get one every year from my nearly my age cousin and his wife and it makes me feel like a worn out old milk wagon nag named Buttercup tied to a post outside the general store, complete with the straw hat with holes for my ears, teeth ten inches long and my nose in a feedbag. 
I don't know where he and his wife get their energy.
I'm kidding except for the part about the straw hat and the feedbag.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: siamesecat2965 on November 07, 2012, 11:12:12 AM
I generally don't mind them, unless they go on in excrutiating and exhaustive detail about every aspect of each family members life for the last 12 months. Its fine to say Mary is loving school and very involved in piano lessons, cheerleading, and girl scouts, and Johnny plays soccer, basketball and baseball.  But I really don't need a blow by blow account of each and every game, recital, etc. you children participate in.  Same goes for the adults.  A short and sweet letter saying hey, we did this, that and the other thing, and the highlight  was our family vacation to the mountains. 
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: heartmug on November 07, 2012, 11:28:11 AM
I like them.  I get them from friends I want to keep in touch with, but we don't live in the same state and that is the one time of year we devote to "catching up" with each other.   Of course now facebook kind of takes care of that.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: StuffedGrapeLeaves on November 07, 2012, 12:17:33 PM
I like them.  I get them from friends I want to keep in touch with, but we don't live in the same state and that is the one time of year we devote to "catching up" with each other.   Of course now facebook kind of takes care of that.

I like them, too.  I'm not on facebook, so I don't always know what people are up to. 
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: lisastitch on November 07, 2012, 02:23:22 PM
By and large, I love getting the newsletters.  I feel as if I've caught up a little bit with people that I don't get to see very often but that I do care about.  Even though I'm FB friends with most of them (the ones who are on FB), none of us are terribly active, so they may not have posted about some event (or I may not have seen it!).  The newsletter gives a good summary.
My friends generally write fairly well and summarize the highlights of the year--they aren't boasting about any family accomplishments.  There are a few that come that make me cringe because they are not well written and there is too much detail.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Margo on November 07, 2012, 03:12:33 PM
I think it depends a lot on how long the letter is, what you include, and how many people you send it to. I get a few, and they tend to feel very impersonal, because they either contain a lot of stuff I already know, because I'm actually in contact with the people concerned, or a lot of stuff that I'm not remotely interested in. (I get one every year from a woman I worked with briefly,  10 years ago. I never met any of her family, we never had much in common other than our job...2 pages of thinly veiled boasting about how wonderful her life and family are doesn't really do a lot for me! (I also find it bizarre that she goes to all the trouble of putting this letter together but has, apparently, never once in 10 years stopped to think that putting her return address on it somewhere might be a good idea - I haven't sent her a card in 10 years, because I don't know her address - apparently 10 years of silence is not enough to stop her sending the letters...))

I would rather have a short summary inside a card, as that feels more personal.

That said, I think they can be useful for keeping in touch with family or friends you don't see often, although if you can, I think it's nice to try to personalise the letters a bit, rather than just printing 20 or 309 identical letters - that way, it feels more like a real letter as you can include mentions of the recipient's family / interests.

I suspect it is another 'know your audience' thing :-)
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: SiotehCat on November 07, 2012, 03:20:21 PM
Am I the only one thinking of the song by Garfunkel and Oates, "Year End Letter".

I am not directing it at anyone on here, but it is pretty funny. I hope its ok to post a link.

http://vimeo.com/8192170
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: WillyNilly on November 07, 2012, 03:28:00 PM
I love the idea of a crossword (in fact I just went to puzzle-maker.com and drafted a holiday crossword as our card!)

As for the letters, I've never actually personally gotten one, but one of my customers sent one to the office last year.  It was really way too much detail for near strangers and it was... well this woman and her husband have 4 or 5 grown kids.  The letter went into detail about grand kids, how their youngest isn't married yet, oldest son's wedding, oh did we mention youngest isn't even dating, another son & his wife moved, we really would be blessed if youngest found herself a husband, middle daughter is expecting her first kid, maybe someday youngest will get married and have kids too, we bought a retirement place in FL, and our hopes for the New Year are prosperity and health for everyone and a husband for our youngest daughter!

It was hilarious and sad at the same time. I'm sure though if I actually knew these people, especially their youngest daughter, it would just be sad and awkward.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: TootsNYC on November 07, 2012, 03:32:20 PM
I mostly like them.

I've only had the energy to put one together every now and then, and I don't worry about whether people will not like getting them.

Because I try to make ours be a brief "introduction" to each member of the family--something interesting to know about them that will make you feel that you've gotten a sense of what they're like as a person, or what their year has been like. It's sometimes a challenge finding something that isn't already common knowledge (esp. w/ Facebook). Sometimes it's sort of a downer, or info that someone is struggling with some issue (carefully chosen and worded so as not to be an imposition on someone's privacy).

I do get sometimes weirded out when parents' letters contain mostly details about their grown children's lives. I think their kids should be the ones to tell me that. And it makes me wonder why their own life isn't interesting enough to take up the bulk of the newsletter. I can't imagine filling my newsletter in years to come w/ info on my DD's trip to Greece.
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: Desdemona on November 07, 2012, 04:37:58 PM
One year my great aunt included that she had finally been absolved of major sin that had been weighing down her soul for hears in her Christmas letter. I would avoid going into such detail that people are feeling uncomfortable or awkward reading it. A short and sweet summary is nice to read from people I don't hear from often.
 
Title: Re: s/o pictures/letters in holiday greetings
Post by: oogyda on November 07, 2012, 05:01:10 PM
I love them. 

I always have.  Even as a kid, I used to love to read the ones that came to us. 

There are a few I really look forward to....One Aunt is so confusing that's is fun to try to follow it.  A cousin's family letters are hilarious.  They write like they speak.  Now, we're getting them from the next generation...even the annoying one is fun to get.  Neice's DH just tries TOO hard to be "funny"

Pictures.... I love them, too.  Our family is spread so far that we just don't get to see each other that much.