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Author Topic: Best/Worst Christmas letters?  (Read 29853 times)

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Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« on: December 13, 2011, 09:20:54 PM »
Searching the archives, it seems like the quality and tone of family Christmas letters varies, to say the least! My family doesn't do them but LordL's does and I've received 3 so far. One was pretty average (a general recap, nothing particularly exciting or offensive). The other two...well I'll break it up by what I think they did wrong:

1. Writing stuff just to fill the page - this letter included random information such as what baked goods the couple had prepared for each holiday (no tasty recipes, just "Bob and Sue baked pies for Thanksgiving, cookies for Christmas, and muffins for Easter"), details on every single out of state trip they'd taken that year ("In February Bob spent a weekend at a work conference in Nearby State"), and job accomplishments too out of context to be understood ("Sue earned her ACY3.1 certification this year" - her what?).

2. Including overly depressing/medical info - this year I got one that included info about Doug's elderly mother who passed away after a long life. It included a line about how she was "ill for many months before she passed. Towards the end she had nothing left to live for."  :o  ???

What are the most notable letters you've received?


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2011, 10:24:12 PM »
I only know a few people who do Christmas letters but the worst one I've ever received was by a relative who had temporary custody of another relative's child and went into great detail about the circumstances, child's poor hygiene and habits, bed wetting, dental appts, etc.  It was awful.  It felt like she was talking about some dog she had picked up from the pound instead of a very young child who deserved his privacy to be protected by the people who cared about him. What made it worse was all the wonderful glowing things she had to say about her own children.   I still have a hard time being kind to this woman and this happened years ago.  Now that I think about it, I'm all mad at her again!   BTW - the child was given back shortly after the Chrismas letter.


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2011, 11:33:34 PM »
I have a friend who writes WONDERFUL Christmas newsletters. Yes, a newsletter. About one person's year. About 4 pages, and I looooove getting it every year. She's a professional writer, so she does have a distinct advantage there, and she splits it up into different articles, such as one about an interesting trip she took, or a list of books she read, etc. One election year, she included a list of campaign promises if she were ever to run for president .

My cat Pollux says hi, by the way.

Anyway, one of her promises was to implement a soy sauce packet recycling program. I don't remember what the rest of them were, but since I never use the soy sauce packets that invariably come with my Chinese takeout, I thought that was a great idea! :-)
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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2011, 06:36:46 AM »
We also used to get them from a neighbor - sadly, no longer. They were beautifully written and I wish I had that skill! She would focus on one thing - say, the relationship that each of her children had with her newest foster child - and it was awesome. Really reminded you what the season was about.


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2011, 07:35:35 AM »
One of the nicest ones I ever received was a single sheet of paper with a recent photo or two of each family member with a short caption (Betsy in her cheerleader uniform; mom tending her herb garden; Baby Timmy is walking now). 

It was lovely seeing photos of them in their everyday normal life.  And they all signed the letter, including a little pawprint for their cat.  :)


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2011, 07:45:06 AM »
I have a few people who send them.  Most are pretty normal.  A former boss of mine did a couple really nice ones that were themed. One year it was themed for three cookbooks (we are in the food industry) and it was amazing to see her transition for each book. 

One of my Great-Aunts would do newsletters, but every other year or so she would do a theme one. My favorite was the "New Home" theme.  Two of her married kids moved to new houses, one daughter had gotten her new home via new missionary field assignment, G-Aunt & Uncle had just remodelled a room or something, and youngest son had gotten his new car which he spent so much time in that he practically lived in it. 


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2011, 07:52:53 AM »
Last year we received one from a friend of mine that I've known for 25 years. She is a nice woman, but writing, grammar and spelling are just not her strong suit. Her letter was so poorly worded and had so many errors, I was embarrassed for her. The worst part is that she has a couple of home sales businesses and I later found out she sent it out to all her clients.

I still remember a letter my family received when I was about 15--and someone mentions it every year when we are going thru my mom's cards and letters. One of the families we were friends with had moved across the country and the first few years after they left, they sent newsletters each year. One year they let each of their kids write whatever they wanted in their space. It was a great idea--the two older kids wrote nice paragraphs. The youngest wrote something hysterical that probably should have been filtered a little bit and then she drew a picture of their new dog. Their new male dog. And she drew it very correctly if you catch my drift. So now when we read the newsletters someone will say--oh that was a nice letter, but a dog with a p**** drawing would have really made it better.


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2011, 08:31:29 AM »
I used to receive a delightful letter from a grad-school friend, who was an amateur novelist and would write the letter as a dialogue between her and her husband about what they would put in the annual letter. It was always charming, and I've missed receiving them since I moved a few years ago.


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2011, 08:47:45 AM »
When I was a kid, my parents would open each day's haul of Christmas cards at the dinner table. We'd sit around, eating dessert, and everyone would get a share of the cards to open and read aloud. One of Dad's old Army buddies always sent a long, detailed letter describing everything everyone in his family had done that year. For some reason, Sid's letter was the highlight of Christmas-card-opening and we all wanted to get his letter.

Well, sadly, one year the letter, in addition to describing every trip, every score of every high school football game his son had played in and every note of every concert his daughter had played the clarinet in, Sid also announced that he and Nancy, his wife, had separated. There were long paragraphs about how he hoped that the separation was only temporary, he wanted to get back together, what he was doing to ensure that would happen. It was all so completely out of the blue and unexpected that everyone was stunned. And Sid, who usually just reported the year's events in a very matter of fact way, revealed himself to be a very emotional and romantic kind of guy.

I must admit that we all waited eagerly for the following year's letter, to see what had happened. The divorce wasn't final, Sid was still hoping, Nancy was reconsidering, etc., etc. For years, we waited with bated breath for Sid's Christmas letter and the next installment in his hopeless romance with his eventual ex-wife. All through his kids' marriages and the later grandkids, Sid kept up hope of a reunion. Dad got to the point where he'd save Sid's letter for Christmas Eve dinner, when most of us would be home.

Dad died a few years ago and we all thought the Sid saga was at an end for us, but Sid somehow got our oldest sibling's address and is still sending the letter! Somehow, it isn't really Christmas until we have heard about Sid's struggles and successes for the year. He's still friends with Nancy, but since she's remarried, we don't think they will be getting back together, by the way. And as far as we know, none of us kids has ever met Sid or Nancy--we think he is an Army buddy from before our parents were married.
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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2011, 10:41:01 AM »
I used to get random letters, not just Christmas, for a number of years after I broke up with a BF, from his best friend's wife.  They had one child at the time, and now have two.  But she would go on inexcruitiating detail about every little thing the child had done, and that was it.  thankfully, I eventually moved and haven't received one since!


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2011, 10:56:06 AM »
One year, my mother broke her arm just after Thanksgiving, and decided that since her children were all teenagers, we had to do more to help get ready for Christmas, including writing and printing off the Christmas letter. We also signed and addressed all the Christmas cards, and delivered them to the post office. Imagine my Mom's surprise when she started getting phone calls about the "funniest Christmas letter ever."

We detailed my sister's acne & unrequited crushes, my older brother's many many trips to the principal's office, my habit of tripping over everything and finally my little brother's failing grade in social studies. We also included how Mom broke her arm (borrowing Sis's roller blades.)

Mom was so embarrassed she never sent out another Christmas letter, while the extended family likes to recount those stories year after year.


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2011, 10:58:25 AM »
*Warning - possible triggers in yellow*

I have two that made me go "huh"?

1) One year I received a Christmas letter from my cousin and his wife, which mentioned the 2 miscarriages she suffered during the year.  Most of the family knew of them anyway, but it just seemed odd and a little bit of a downer to include them in the Christmas letter!

2) Another year my parents received a Christmas letter from my sister's ex-husband's new wife, which included information regarding their adoption process.  My sister's marriage ended amicably and my parents wouldn't have minded receiving a Christmas card from the ex-husband/new wife.  But it just rubbed us the wrong way that the new wife sent the letter with the adoption information.  (I don't think it was sent maliciously - just out of cluelessness!)


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2011, 11:12:59 AM »
The itemization of who did what might be a way to keep score for lack of a better term.  I could see some families needing to keep track and reduce it to paper so as to avoid people saying things like "always" and "Never"  when they start fighting over who should bring the pies this year, they can at least check the letter to see who did it last year.

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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2011, 11:33:23 AM »
I've received three distinctly different kinds:

1.  The overly religious newsletter.  On and on and on about what the holiday really represents.  Yes, we know.  A simple card with a manger would have been more appreciated.

2.  The newsy ones others have described above.  These can be interesting or boring, depending on what's included and how it's written.  I used to have an aunt that exaggerated everything her family did to such a ridiculous degree that the letters became famous for being funny even though we were clearly supposed to take them quite seriously.  Example:  We knew my cousin worked for a pharmaceutical firm in a clerical (secretarial) position.  If you read my aunt's newsletter you'd have thought my cousin was the CEO of the company.  According to the letter, the place would have completely self destructed without my cousin's intense supervision and frequent intervention. 

3.  The best ones -- are truly and intentionally funny.  I LOVE getting them, with or without pictures.  Example:  " (#1 son) spent six hours making an entire quite elaborate Lego village.   (#2 son),  apparently envisioning himself as a  one man demolition crew, demonstrated that he could totally destroy it in six seconds."
« Last Edit: December 14, 2011, 12:37:09 PM by gramma dishes »


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Re: Best/Worst Christmas letters?
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2011, 11:44:05 AM »
My cousin's (ex)wife sent out newsletters several years in a row. She went on and on and on about her older daughter's high school life while completely leaving out anything about her son even though he was quite remarkable in many things throughout the year. He had one line about him..."He really enjoys spending time at his grandmas after school."   Wow, what a way to make your kid feel loved.  :'(