Christmas Letters: My Kids are Better Than Your Kids

December 7, 2005    By: Kristen J @ 8:53 pm   Category: Life

I think I may have come out of my “bah humbug mood”. Do you know what caused me to do so? Christmas letters! I love them. Every December I run to my mailbox hoping that it will be stuffed with letters from family, friends, and people that I knew for a little while a very long time ago.

There are 3 kinds of Christmas letters: the very braggy, the super boring, and the humorous. I love them all.

Let’s start with the most boring of the letter types, the super boring. The reason I like these is because they make me feel better about myself. I can read them and think to myself, “Hey, at least I’m not as boring as these poor suckers!” You may think I’m incredibly rude after reading those last statements and you’d be right. Don’t we all have rude moments in life? I just like to share mine with a faceless mass of strangers.

The rarest of the Christmas letters is the humorous. Occasionally a dear friend will come up with a really great idea for a Christmas letter that brings a little Christmas joy along with it. These, in my opinion, happen much too infrequently.

The most common of the Christmas letters is the very braggy. I think these are almost as entertaining as the humorous Christmas letter. Growing up my family would get a letter from some old friends of my parents that was particularly great. I would wait for this letter and as soon as it came I would tear it open and read it aloud to anyone with in hearing.

It would talk about the 2 children in the family Chris and…Shoot, I can’t remember the girls name. Dana! Her name was Dana! Anyway, it would always say things like “Dana has been invited to play Clara in the New York City Ballet’s presentation of the Nutcracker. We were thrilled she was asked but we have to decline since we will be spending the month of December in Brussels where Chris will be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.” Ok, I’m exaggerating but not by much! Of course it was always accompanied by a picture of the two teenagers wearing matching sweaters and smiles while sitting in front of a gorgeous waterfall.

Once or twice I asked my mom if we could do a Christmas letter spoof. It would say things like “Daddy has finally cut back on the booz much to the likin’ of his kin.” Or “Jr will be making parole this year. We will welcome him home with some 40s while shootin’ our pistols in the air.” Or “Our little baby will be havin’ her 4th baby in as many years. We aren’t sure who the father is but no matter, the welfare board don’t care too much about that.” Of course our letter would have been accompanied by my family wearing overalls, daisy dukes, and blacked out teeth. Usually my mom would just ignore me when I made this request. Maybe someday….

Now I want to hear about the best or worst Christmas letters you’ve ever gotten. If you would like to include excerpt from your own Christmas letter you can do that too. Merry Christmas!

37 Comments »

  1. Oh, how I wish you had done a spoof. That would be awesome.

    My favorite Christmas letter was sent to my mother-in-law. The letter writer was (still is?) a BYU humanities professor, and my mother-in-law had known his wife about 20 years ago. The card itself was fairly normal, but the letter that accompanied it…

    …was SIX pages long. It was a list of all the movies the man had seen, all the books he had read, all the fabulous foreign places he and his wife had visited. Keep in mind he is a humanities professor–he had seen a LOT of movies and read a LOT of books. And the tone…well, let’s just say humble is not a word that comes to mind.

    Anyway, weirdest Christmas letter I had ever seen.

    Comment by Keryn — December 7, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

  2. That’s hilarious.

    Comment by sue — December 7, 2005 @ 11:06 pm

  3. Okay, I just got a Christmas letter from my perfect former VT companion. of many years(she moved, I’m still sad)

    The letter was perfect. And frankly, I just don’t know how to react to that. Not braggy, not boring, not funny, just perfect. Friendly, happy, informative, pleasant. The perfect letter.

    This is the woman who had six kids, a spotless house, always groomed, excercises at 5am, cooked healthy meals & snacks from scratch, super polite kids, always smiling, never let anyone down, fair-minded, centered, perfectly churchy in every way. But without the Stepford creepy factor that tends to creep into many such cases. And everyone liked her to boot. Me included. Impossible not to.

    It’s just not right that she can effortlessly create the perfect Christmas letter as well. And have it arrive at my house well-before Christmas. No one should have this power.

    What is wrong with this woman? There must be a flaw! And not any of those pretend-a-flaws she points out for the sake of humility.

    And I just realized I’m obsessing and boring. Sorry. Moving on.

    Comment by fMhLisa — December 8, 2005 @ 12:51 am

  4. I’ve a friend, who we call “the real Steve Martin” (since he isn’t the actor) who writes wonderfully humorous Christmas Letters. We usually write informative, cheerful ones, though this year we decided we just didn’t have it in us.

    The closest I got to a Christmas letter this year was a note to an old acquaintance who wrote and expressed hope I was ok:

    Usually we do a family letter, but this
    year there really wasn’t enough “news” to write a
    general letter, so I’m just writing a few
    personal letters, everyone else is getting the usual cards.

    I’m not sure how much background you
    have, though your question that you sent reflects
    that you have some. Obviously 1993 was a bad
    year, we had a child die on the 26th of January
    and on the 26th of December that year. Then we
    lost another one on August 31, 1997.

    In January of 1999 we moved to the
    Dallas area and I started working with a downtown
    firm. I was elected a partner the same year. In
    2002 I moved to the Richardson Staff Counsel
    Office of St. Paul Travelers. Part of that was
    to have more time with my family & the new office
    is only six miles from my house and it lets me
    walk my five year old daughter to school most
    mornings. That five year old is Rachel.

    Rachel will turn six just before
    Christmas. Last year she taught herself to read
    and got to a second grade level by last
    Christmas. This year she started kindergarten
    and loves it. She just loves the social nature
    of school and the arts and crafts. She is still
    active and thinking and still believes the world
    exists to make us happy and especially to make her happy. She is a delight.

    Our seventeen year old * Heather *
    survived the deaths of her older sister, her
    younger sister and the baby. This summer she got
    hit by an SUV in a cross-walk, then this fall she
    came down with a disease that was described to us
    as a cross between chicken pox and mono. It is
    not very infectious, strikes mostly kids from
    nine to twenty-one. It lasts about nine to
    twelve weeks. She was running eight miles before
    she got sick, is now on the uphill side of
    things, but is lucky to be able to walk a mile.

    Luckily for her she was very close
    to all of her requirements for graduation, so
    even having to drop much of her class load she
    will still be able to graduate * and expects to
    be able to have a normal semester next
    semester. She is her fourth year on the rifle
    team, third year as varsity and is the team
    captain as well this year. It was kind of a
    surprise to have my daughter as the team captain
    of a varsity sport that has mostly guys in it, but she has done very well.

    Following 1993, Win went back to
    school, got a second bachelors in nursing, and
    then went on to get a CRNA. She passed her
    boards with a perfect score. This year Win was
    called to be the ward activities chair. Ok, it
    was a co-calling with me, but everyone trusts her
    to do fun activities, everyone trusts me to do
    support. The ward has needed this for a while,
    and it has been fun to do something useful,
    enjoyable and social. She has also continued to
    do anesthesia at Dallas Methodist (were she does
    just about everything, including liver
    transplants) and to do some on the side at an eye clinic.

    I have had a really good year at
    work. In pre-trial work I usually have about 12
    “zeros” as they are called a year, though 2-3 is
    a good number for most attorneys in Texas as the
    courts here are not friendly to motions for
    summary judgment. This year I am at twenty-nine
    zeros in pre-trial and another at trial. I’ve
    also taught a little * a couple guest appearances
    on ADR and negotiation and some other in company
    classes I’ve taught on tort law * and I am
    co-writing an article with my nephew Daryl. I
    hope to be able to submit it for publication this
    spring and he hopes to be applying to law schools about the same time.

    As a family we did the usual things.
    We worked some more on the house and finally
    finished updating the game room. We put the
    blinds in ourselves, painted the ceiling and
    fixed the paint on the walls. Yes, that does
    mean that we paid someone to paint the walls and
    then we came back and finished the job they
    didn’t do right. Win also replaced all the plugs
    and switches in that room and we had new carpet
    put in * the only carpeted surface in the house
    (we laid wood floor and tile ourselves
    earlier). The landscaping in the back yard is
    finally finished and I rebuilt the back gate.

    Funny things included finding the
    neighbor’s car sharing our garage. She had run
    back into the house to get something, left the
    engine running and the car in neutral and it
    rolled down the alley and into our garage. She
    was going to handle repainting the garage door to
    keep her rates down, but got taken off to the
    hospital in an ambulance, so we painted it
    ourselves. But we came really close to having a BMW in the garage.

    We also had cucumbers like some
    people have zucchini. Luckily people were
    grateful to get cucumbers * no one ran and barred
    the door when they saw us coming.

    We celebrated twenty years of
    marriage by going to Paris in the spring
    time. Our anniversary is January 26 and we often
    just kind of celebrate on a different day. Each
    year my wife thinks she will be up to being happy
    then, but since Jessica died on that day it just
    hasn’t happened. Our trip was wonderful and I’m
    sure that April is a better time for Paris than
    January. Win has decided we need to travel every
    year. My parents came out and stayed with the
    kids this time and it was just great all around.

    This fall we went to the wedding of
    one of my nephews and spent a week in San
    Francisco visiting family and friends. Reminded
    me of just how much I miss mountains sometimes.

    We also got to see the wedding of a
    dear friend’s child here in Dallas. I met the
    son when the kid was acting up a little in
    Primary and I was teaching Heather’s
    class. Since I was a guy, I was asked to take
    the kid out and discipline him. He was such a
    good kid, I just took him out, let him get his
    breath and asked him if he could go back in, sit
    down and act like he had been chewed out. The
    kid said yes and we both went back in. The
    parents heard about it and luckily approved and
    we’ve been on good terms with them since.

    It was neat to see him married in the temple.

    Other than that, it has been more of
    the usual. I’m on the board of a children’s
    medical clinic, Heather is the Laurel president,
    and Rachel just went to sleep. Win was called
    into the hospital tonight but will be back by morning.

    I hope that answers the question
    implied by “I hope things are going well for
    you.” I need to write more, I’ve been meaning to
    start a blog on negotiation theory (you can see
    the start at the placeholder I have at
    http://srmarsh.com/ which is part of my core
    thesis on conflict that is laid out in very
    simple terms at http://adrr.com/adr4/ppp.htm
    ). I just haven’t had the time to write like I
    thought I would. Mostly I’ve been writing
    motions for summary judgment which is somewhat
    like a really rough referred journal
    system. Usually I would make fourteen or fifteen
    and expect to win twelve. This year I’ve made
    about thirty or so and have won twenty-nine. All
    of that was in the course of handling normal
    commercial lines insurance defense litigation in
    Texas, which means a lot of writing, just not the kind that gets published.

    The * seems to just be randomly inserted (this was a cut and paste), but that is what would have been the rough draft of a letter, before I realized I couldn’t get one together.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — December 8, 2005 @ 7:43 am

  5. Stephen, I love you. I really do. I don’t know how you deal with all that. I hope you have a peaceful Christmas.

    I’ve never cared much for Christmas newsletters or cards, never send any out, which is probably why I never receive any. Except from my in-laws, who always include a blurb about each of their kids’ families, which means we always get a mention. It’s always fun to see them stretch to come up with something interesting/good about us!

    Comment by Susan M — December 8, 2005 @ 8:13 am

  6. Stephen, I think you just wrote your Christmas letter! Print that baby up and send it out. You are amazing to be doing so well considering the deaths your family has dealt with.

    fmhLisa, I always wonder if people like her will eventually snap and run away to Anchorage with the milk man. Had to laugh about the pretend-a-flaw, don’t you hate those?

    Keryn, That’s exactly what I mean by super boring. I heard good advice once that I like to follow: If your Christmas letter is longer than a page it’s too long!

    Susan, Don’t you worry, you’ll be getting at least one more this Christmas!

    Comment by Kristen J — December 8, 2005 @ 8:49 am

  7. You’re going to mention your blog in your Christmas letter, right? Maybe put the URL after your signatures.

    That’s what I should do. “If you want to hear about our year, just go read my blog.”

    Comment by Susan M — December 8, 2005 @ 9:05 am

  8. I have a cousin that instead of sending out Christmas card he and his family send out the funniest April Fools Day cards. Normally the picture sent with the card is them dressed up as some crazy family in front of some odd house. The Spoof letter that they attach goes along with the picture. When they dress up and pose by a mansion, they will tell they best stories of fame and luxuries. Then the next year with the picture by the trash can they will continue the saga and tell the woes of how they lost everything. I look forward to the letters every year.

    Comment by JessicaMae — December 8, 2005 @ 10:05 am

  9. I did a spoof one year, but I just put it online rather than actually sending it to the relatives. My family never did an update letter. We decided it would be too depressing, as we really were a very underachieving family, especially compared to all the the families who sent us letters apparently did.

    You can read my spoof here: http://www.sea-of-ink.com/dripping/alpha.html

    Comment by Tanya Spackman — December 8, 2005 @ 10:27 am

  10. Hey Kristen J.,

    I take SERIOUS EXCEPTION to your implication that those of us who wear overalls and daisy dukes are all criminals. At least half of my relatives have never seen the inside of a jail. :-)

    But it would make a good Christmas picture, wouldn’t it?

    The best letter we ever got was from a mother of a fairly normal family who exagerrated her kids’ achievements to the point of parody. The daughter who was struggling with her piano lessons had been asked to perform at the Kennedy Center, the son who got mediocre grades in school won the national Get Your Homework Done On Time Award, etc.

    But I do enjoy seeing pictures of people we know from previous wards or neighborhoods and hearing how they are doing.

    Comment by Mark IV — December 8, 2005 @ 10:43 am

  11. Lol Tanya. Now that’s my kind of Christmas letter.

    Hey Jessica, I think I’d like that cousin of yours!

    Comment by Kristen J — December 8, 2005 @ 10:43 am

  12. Mark IV, you wear daisy dukes AND overalls? Kinda defeats the point of the daisy dukes, don’t you think? ;)

    Comment by Chad Too — December 8, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

  13. Ha! I think so Chad Too.

    Mark IV, Only one of my three family members in the spoof did any jail time. The others were alcoholics and permiscuous. The things don’t necessarily mean jail time!

    Comment by Kristen J — December 8, 2005 @ 1:30 pm

  14. Ok, I’ll be serious for a second. We do the yearly Christmas letter mostly because we live so far away from family and old friends that it’s our way of keeping them in the loop about major/minor events in our lives. We are very sensitive about bragging — we aim for informative. We put a lot of pictures in the letter too.

    Friends that live locally don’t get the letter since they were with us for most of the events. They get more traditional Christmas cards.

    Comment by Chad Too — December 8, 2005 @ 3:38 pm

  15. Freekin’ hilarious! All you guys! Here’s why:

    My mom does the braggy ones! They’re terrible. For example, while working on my M.A., she kept sending it out saying I was working on a PhD (wishful thinking, ma!), and that my brother was “moving up in the company” (ie, pay raise to combat inflation), that my sister “bought a home” (yeah right, it’s mortgaged up the yin-yang), and for my “black sheep” sister with no life and drug problems, she stated that she’s just enjoying herself with her new pet dog (who wasn’t new, but mom had to say something). Totally funny because mom was the only one who was fooled; all the recipients of her “ALCC” (my sister dubbed it that — Annual Lying Christmas Card) knew it was mostly bogus, because I talked to two of them and they just rolled their eyes when I told them I wasn’t working on the PhD.

    Great post, Kristen!

    Comment by David J — December 8, 2005 @ 6:41 pm

  16. I did have a friend who did a faux family nude card, with a funny letter, that was great (until we finally lost it) and a warning not to try this at home …

    I think I’ll work on the letter some more after all, and mention my blog.

    Thanks all for the comments. My kids keep me going, that and chocolate, until I discovered I was allergic to it. I’ve lost fifteen pounds since mid-November, 40 more to go.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — December 8, 2005 @ 7:42 pm

  17. David J, You be nice to that little mama of yours! Maybe you could help her out this year. “Mom it’s not just a PhD. The university keeps offering positions as the dean of (whatever program). I keep turning them down but they keep throwing money at me.”

    Oh Stephen,how I wish to become allergic to chocolate. I just discovered that Godiva has the best frozen chocolate drink. It’s too good. I will probably gain 40 pounds by next November now that I’m aware of their existence.

    Chad, that’s pretty much my philosophy in Christmas letters too.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 8, 2005 @ 8:24 pm

  18. Kristen,

    Yesterday she sent out an email asking for all the family to send in their family photos (we’re all older and have our own kids). I replied nicely with a photograph, and said “Mom, just in case you forgot, the way to abbreviate ‘Masters Degree’ is ‘M.A.’ not ‘PhD’.” She replied and said that this year she won’t say anything, just have photos.

    I got $10 (on my brother) riding on this one that says she changes her mind… ;)

    Comment by David J — December 8, 2005 @ 10:35 pm

  19. Oh Stephen,how I wish to become allergic to chocolate. I just discovered that Godiva has the best frozen chocolate drink. It’s too good. I will probably gain 40 pounds by next November now that I’m aware of their existence.

    Chad, that’s pretty much my philosophy in Christmas letters too.

    Comment by Kristen J – December 8, 2005 @ 8:24 pm

    You might want to try the Shangra La diet. I found that when I quit eating chocolat I just ate other things.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — December 9, 2005 @ 5:57 am

  20. Ok I just need to know if I’m crazy, I don’t send out christmas letters but every year I hand make 50-60 cristmas cards. Right now I am sitting and spending about the 15 hour so far trying to finish these cards. I was reading this post and wondering, do you suppose people really care that each card is handmade? I love coming up with the cards, each year I try to out do the last, then I get to this point every year and wonder if I am just obsessive and I should just send out regular store bought cards? This year I was going to make these snow globe cards that would have transparency over the picture filled with white beads so when you shake it it looks like a snow globe…crazy. So I pared the idea down but it still was a 7 step process to make the cards. Ok I do sound crazy huh!

    Comment by Paige — December 9, 2005 @ 10:47 am

  21. Paige, are you in St. Cloud, MN?

    Comment by Ann — December 9, 2005 @ 10:16 pm

  22. I do like Christmas cards or letters that are unique, personal, humorous, and don’t take themselves too seriously with some but not overwhelmingly too much information (sorry folks, reducing the font size doesn’t help).

    We’ve done cards, letters, e-greetings (which I like since they save trees and stamps!)… We did spoof letters one year but apparently we were too subtle because later some recipients asked about my birth research in Bolivia, etc. Apparently the cat winning the lottery wasn’t a dead giveaway. (Or perhaps people really don’t read beyond the first couple paragraphs?)

    Miss Manners said something like if all these people don’t already know all these things going on in your family’s life, then they aren’t close enough to care if Suzy is getting braces, etc. Pshaw! I love Christmas cards and letters for the same reasons mentioned above. We’ve lived in a dozen different places and wards, and even though we’re settled now, we live in a very transitory area and every year we lose a handful of friends.

    Another reason to love ‘em is you can plaster them all over your house to prove how loved and connected you are. You can even save and reuse the previous years’ cards to appear even MORE loved and well-connected. This is the receiver benefit.

    And extended family ones are an easy way to put together a basic family history outline. Just keep ‘em in a file–and remember to add yours!

    Paige–I love homemade cards! Yours sound beautiful. I say if you enjoy the process of making them, keep doing it! If you’re doing it just to impress and it’s driving YOU crazy, then give it up already!

    Comment by LisaB — December 9, 2005 @ 10:52 pm

  23. Umm… that should be “we lose a handful of friends but gain a handful of penpals!”

    Comment by LisaB — December 9, 2005 @ 10:54 pm

  24. Paige, Your cards sound awesome and I personally like to get them. I was going to mention in my post how I appreciate the picture and simple saying you usually put in your cards. I think you should make your coolest cards for your coolest friends, ie me. Then if you get sick of making them buy store-bought ones or make simpler cards for the people you knew for about 5 minutes twenty years ago.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 10, 2005 @ 1:06 pm

  25. Ann, No I am in San Diego, CA (Actually Escondido which is North San Diego, But I sound much cooler if I say San Diego)

    Kristen, Great idea, I actually though about sending out the cool cards to those I really know and a slap the picture on the front cards to the aunt and uncle who can’t see anymore. Anyway I will be sending out the cards on tuesday hooray!Your’s might be a little later so I can send your friend gift with it, Yes you are still on our friend exchange gift list.

    Comment by Paige — December 10, 2005 @ 8:55 pm

  26. Alright! I’m not sure what the heck I’m doing for friend gifts. I know, I’m a little behind schedule. Hhhhmmm…maybe I should write a post on friend gifts.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 11, 2005 @ 12:02 am

  27. I just happened upon your site while looking for good Christmas letter ideas. Probably the two worst Christmas letters I can think of are one that we got from some friends that said they just paid off their mortgage (they bought the house like a year before, they were still in their 20′s) and I think that same day we got a letter from our mortgage company telling us our check had bounced! The second was from my brother in law and amoung other things put in there that they had bought their second house in a year. (he forgot to say they sold the first, that probably wouldn’t have sounded as good!) Thanks for letting me share! :)

    Comment by Michele R — December 13, 2005 @ 1:11 am

  28. Well I’m glad you found the Thang, Michelle R. Those stories are classic.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 13, 2005 @ 9:48 am

  29. I have a friend from HS who sends out a 2-sided, single spaced, 6 point font letter every year, outlining and exaggerating every detail of her children’s lives. For example, last year there were probably 4 paragraphs talking about the 16 month old’s toys, favorite foods, diaper rashes, etc. She also listed each score that her second grader received in math that year–with parenthetical explanations about why his scores “slipped” on certain days because he was ill with a fever, etc.

    Reading her letters is just painful–I feel so embarassed for her. I’ve heard that she has a really bad marriage–and I can’t help but think that these annual novels are just her way of trying to “prove” to the world that she really is okay. But she goes so far overboard that it is painfully obvious what is going on.

    Comment by maria — December 14, 2005 @ 4:46 pm

  30. Lol! “2-sided, single spaced, 6 point font” — hilarious… Nice example of someone going WAY over the top, Maria.

    (I hope the sad reality you suspect is behind it isn’t true though)

    Comment by Geoff J — December 14, 2005 @ 4:59 pm

  31. I always thought there should be some sort of award for the most obnoxious, long winded Christmas letter each year. Everyone could enter the worst ones they receive, (giving full credit to the writer, of course), with the ‘winner’ receiving the coveted “Most Severe Case of Diarrhea of the Keyboard Award”. I received a couple of entries this year that would be very competitive, I think. (Both 2-sided, single spaced, 6 point font, btw.)

    Comment by Dana — December 30, 2005 @ 11:54 am

  32. Hello –

    I thought you might like this column about holiday brag letters.

    Humor Me: Holiday brag letters

    By MATT WIXON
    The Dallas Morning News
    http://www.dallasnews.com/humorme

    Happy holidays, everyone!

    Just wanted to send along my annual holiday letter. You know, the one that gushes with emotion, sends warms wishes and includes a reminder that I have a bigger house than you, a better job than you, and that my kids are freakin’ geniuses.

    Wait a second, that’s not a description of my holiday letter. That’s a description of the holiday brag letters sent to me, which are loaded with words in ALL-CAPITALS and more exclamation points than a desperate real-estate listing (Beautiful tiled entry!!! Gorgeous kitchen!!! Charming blood stains!!!)

    The brag letters, tucked inside Christmas cards, are also filled with ridiculous claims like this:

    Our 4-year-old continues to show STUNNING ability in math, science, music and sports! Also, some of his paintings are reminiscent of da Vinci, so we’re not sure if he’ll be an AMAZING artist, or a pro basketball player, or a WORLD-FAMOUS musician who cures cancer!!!

    Well, you won’t find that in my letter. I vow to spread holiday cheer by telling the truth, unlike the frilly fibbery that will be sent to you by a relative, or a friend, or someone you swear you’ve never met in your life. (It could be a friend of a friend of that guy who you met in the Jiffy Lube waiting room, because brag letters have no less than 4,000 recipients).

    Anyway, I hope the Wixon holiday letter makes you feel better about your year:

    Season’s greetings! What a year it’s been at our house. Ryan is now 4 years old, Cooper is 18 months, and they love to play with each other! Just the other day, I came home from work and heard my wife say, “Ryan, please don’t roll your brother across the room.”

    He’s become such a good big brother this year. Ryan even tells Cooper to take small bites of food, “because if you choke,” he says, “we’ll have to go to the hospital and pick out a new baby.” Can’t you just feel the love?

    It’s amazing how much the boys have grown this year. Cooper can already say about 500 words, six of which are in English. The other words are part Mandarin Chinese, part Arabic and part of a lost civilization that communicated in shrieks, grunts and drools. Cooper also wants to learn everything, which is why he loves all his educational toys, especially the ones he can fit in his mouth. And you know what else he puts in his mouth? Dog toys. And Legos. And hair brushes. He even put a rubber stamp that had blue ink on it in his mouth. He looked like the newest member of the Blue Man Group!!!

    His brother is very much a big boy now, albeit a big boy who remains deathly afraid of self-flushing toilets. Ryan talks constantly, and he’s even learning how to rhyme. He’ll just start with a word and go from there, like the time he began with “duck,” and then “puck,” and then started his Eddie Murphy routine. Ryan also loves to play “hide and seek,” but he always tells me where he’s hiding as I’m counting. I try to explain the traditional way to play, but he seems to prefer “hide and speak.”

    Ryan also learned to play tee-ball this year and immediately showed a talent for wandering off the field in the middle of the game. He also learned to dress himself, and he defies the law of averages by putting on his shirt backwards 75 percent of the time. Sometimes his shirt AND pants are on backward, making him look like a devoted follower of the ’90s rap duo Kris Kross. Ryan’s best look: Shirt backward, pants backward, zipper down. It’s good for emergencies, I guess.

    Some of the year’s other developments. … Oh yes, we had a garage sale in the summer. It netted nearly $12, along with one person who walked by and said to her friend, “Nothing but crap.” … Our dog, Maggie, continued to chew up, and then throw up, any toy she could find when we left the house. Our other dog, Casper, continued to try to steal food off of dinner plates. We eventually had to banish him to a bedroom, where he passes the time by getting intimate with a pillow. … In another grand achievement this year, I drove several miles with a sippee cup on the roof of the car.

    We also had some really exciting moments in the family, like when we learned how we stand out in our neighborhood! The homeowner’s association gave us special recognition for having a bush that obscured part of the house’s address. The way the HOA’s letter used words like “covenant” and “community standards,” it was really touching. Also touching was the way the people at Souper Salad helped out after Ryan put on a dramatic show at their restaurant. They offered assistance after Ryan fell off his chair in a spectacular performance that included a slice of pizza taking flight. Unforgettable!!!

    That’s it for my letter. Now I’ll just wait for the holiday letters to start arriving in my mailbox so I can read about everyone’s exceptional year. If you’d like to send me yours, feel free. I love good fiction.

    Please note, however, that my policy is to stop whenever I see any of these phrases:

    “He is a genius.”

    “Simply phenomenal.”

    “My new BMW with the three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel.”

    Comment by Matt — December 1, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  33. Matt-

    I LOVED your letter, it was simply FANTASTIC!!!

    Seriously, thanks for the laughs. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who only makes about 50 cents at a garage sale.

    Hope you have a great holiday.

    Comment by Kristen J — December 3, 2006 @ 6:07 pm

  34. I love to get Christmas letters every year. In fact, when a card comes alone and there is no letter included, I’m sad. I love to hear how fabulous your family is. I love to compare your family to mine. I love to make sure I’m on the right track as a mom by measuring the amount of extra-curricular activities my kids are doing as compared to yours. I love validation.

    My father-in-law, who is 70 years old, has been writing their family letter faithfully for the past 36 years. His are my favorite, not just because I’m sucking up, but because every year he creates an amazing story about his family in the form of a poem. We all love to see how many verses we each get. He’s also the kind to mention the amazing feats of his kin, but also loves to add the stupid decisions we all make and in his own sarcastic way he’s rebuking us. He has mocked me and my husband Scott for things like buying and selling too many cars in a year and going through pets like candy. It’s a great laugh annually.
    We have put them all up on our family website and have kept them all in a book to keep for posterity. It is a pretty accurate and detailed account of his family for 36 years.

    BTW, I don’t know what y’all are doing wrong…but my garage sales have always made me hundreds of dollars. It either comes from the fact that we buy way too much crap and then sell if for a pitance 2 years later, or I’m a garage sale GENIUS!

    Comment by Pam Jorg — December 6, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  35. Better late than never. As this post remains alive I thought I’d let Garrison Keillor share his Christmas Letter with you:

    “I love reading Christmas newsletters in which the writer bursts the bonds of modesty and comes forth with one gilt-edged paragraph after another: “Tara was top scorer on the Lady Cougars soccer team and won the lead role in the college production of ‘Antigone,’ which by the way they are performing in the original Greek. Her essay on chaos theory as an investment strategy will be in the next issue of Fortune magazine, the same week she’ll appear as a model in Vogue. How she does what she does and still makes Phi Beta Kappa is a wonderment to us all. And, yes, she is still volunteering at the homeless shelter.”

    I get a couple dozen Christmas letters a year, and I sit and read them in my old bathrobe as I chow down on Hostess Twinkies. Everyone in the letters is as busy as beavers, piling up honors hand over fist, volunteering up a storm, traveling to Beijing, Abu Dhabi and Antarctica; nobody is in treatment or depressed or flunking out of school, though occasionally there is a child who gets shorter shrift. “Chad is adjusting well to his new school and making friends. He especially enjoys the handicrafts.” How sad for Chad. There he is in reform school learning to get along with other little felons and making belts and birdhouses, but he can’t possibly measure up to the goddess Tara. Or Lindsay or Meghan or Madison, each of whom is also stupendous.

    This is rough on us whose children are not paragons. Most children aren’t. A great many teenage children go through periods when they loathe you and go around slamming doors and playing psychotic music and saying things like “I wish I had never been born,” which is a red-hot needle stuck under your fingernail. One must be very selective, writing about them for the annual newsletter. “Sean is becoming very much his own person and is unafraid to express himself. He is a lively presence in our family and his love of music is a thing to behold.”

    I come from Minnesota, where it’s considered shameful to be shameless, where modesty is always in fashion, where self-promotion is looked at askance. Give us a gold trophy and we will have it bronzed so you won’t think that we think we’re special. There are no Donald Trumps in Minnesota: We strangled them all in their cribs. A football player who likes to do his special dance after scoring a touchdown is something of a freak.

    The basis of modesty is winter. When it’s 10 below zero and the wind is whipping across the tundra, there is no such thing as stylish and smart, and everybody’s nose runs. And the irony is, if you’re smart and stylish, nobody will tell you about your nose. You look in the rearview mirror and you see a gob of green snot hanging from your left nostril and you wonder, “How long have I been walking around like that? Is that why all those people were smiling at me?”

    Yes, it is.

    So we don’t toot our own horns. We can be rather ostentatious in our modesty and can deprecate faster than you can compliment us. We are averse to flattery. We just try to focus on keeping our noses clean.
    So here is my Christmas letter:

    “Dear friends. We are getting older but are in fairly good shape and moving forward insofar as we can tell. We still drink strong coffee and read the paper and drive the same old cars. We plan to go to Norway next summer. We think that this war is an unmitigated disaster that will wind up costing a trillion dollars and we worry for our country. Our child enjoys her new school and is making friends. She was a horsie in the church Christmas pageant and hunkered down beside the manger and seemed to be singing when she was supposed to. We go on working and hope to be adequate to the challenges of the coming year but are by no means confident. It’s winter. God is around here somewhere but does not appear to be guiding our government at the moment. Nonetheless we persist. We see kindness all around us and bravery and we are cheered by the good humor of young people. The crabapple tree over the driveway is bare, but we have a memory of pink blossoms and expect them to return. God bless you all.”

    Comment by Mound of Sound — December 22, 2009 @ 8:04 am

  36. So is it too late to blog about Christmas letters?
    I am older and have never done blogging. I will pat myself on my letters – I try to make them funny and keep them to one side of half a sheet of paper. Any longer and it is boring and extra for postage.
    I am on this site looking for a suggestion for this years’ card. In the past I did a letter similar to a newspaper’ slost and found ad:
    Lost:
    Dory’s job – after 10 years with American Greetings, she was “Downsized”
    Son-in-law – It is with heavy hearts, we are dealing with Joy & Matt’s divorce
    Sadie – Our 14 year old Bichon was put to sleep
    Hope for a grandchild soon – nothing in the horizon

    Found:
    An RN – Joy finished school and passed her boards
    Antique high chair – it was in the lost column, but we found it behind all the Christmas decorations in the attic
    New Car – Dory won out and another “van” will be used as the family car
    Internship – Beth will be finishing her bachelor’s degree by working in the Butler Social Security office
    God-daughter and Son – What a blessing Shannon and Mikey moved in with us in August. It is a joy to watch Mikey grow. They have filled a gap in our household.
    I have also done rhymes and news cast announcements.
    So – any ideas for this years format?

    Comment by Doris Lemmon — December 11, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  37. In the spirit of holiday letters, here is the one I sent out this year:

    Pick your Holiday
    December 2011

    Dear Friends and Family (you know who you are),

    This letter and the enclosed card (or is it this card and enclosed letter?) are intentionally late.

    I hereby take full, sole, and complete responsibility for this letter’s content (both the connotations and denotations within). In other words, Elise is not involved in writing, proofreading, or otherwise supervising this letter. She has, in fact, warned me not to do my usual funny stuff.

    But, as you well know, I can’t help myself. In fact, inscribed on my ceremonial urn (many years from now) will be: “Why? He did it for the jokes.”

    I know that you are all tired of reading those long, pointless letters that everyone else writes this time of year. All the travels, hobbies, kid’s successes, and cute pet tricks are tiresome, indeed. (Speaking of which, Eddy has almost mastered Lie Down.)

    One approach I’ve always wanted to try would be to write a satire of those ‘other people’s’ letters. However, writing about illness, death, accidents, really boring trips, adult children living at home, etc., might be misinterpreted as being actually true.

    This letter is not about any of those mundane subjects described two paragraphs above this one. Although if you’d like to know the name of a great Italian restaurant in Truth or Consequences, NM—approximately half-way between Albuquerque and Las Cruces (great trip, by the way—I scored a complete hardcover edition of The World of Mathematics at COAS—which is a great used bookstore—also by the way), just take a look at my Facebook page.

    Back to the main point of this letter. (See the first paragraph for a hint.) So, why is this letter late? Honestly? I am a procrastinator. (Ha, I spelled that right the first time!) But, another reason could be that I figured you would be more likely to give this the attention it deserves if it arrived after Christmas. (Notice the qualification in the previous sentence.)

    Now that I HAVE YOUR FULL AND COMPLETE ATTENTION…um, er, how about ‘dem Broncos?

    But seriously folks, I know you are dying to read about all the exciting things that happened last year. I have just one little problem, which is that I am running out of room on this page. And this is a one-page letter. Oops. HAG2012,L,A&E…

    Comment by Andy Klee — December 27, 2011 @ 7:46 am

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