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The Notorious Family Holiday Letter

holiday letterwritinghaThe Notorious Family Holiday Letter

by Jane Suter

Boots crunching in the icy grass, I make my way to my mailbox. As I crack open the frozen door, I am met with 18 catalogs; four bills; and six hand-addressed, plump, white envelopes with various festive stickers sealing their contents. Yes, it’s December—time to open the grenades that are “The Family Christmas Letters.” Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they will arrive by the handful. Some boring, some hilarious, and all potentially worthy of the Biography Channel.

Maybe I’m just nosey, but I love reading these self-published report cards. Whether written in prose to mimic “The Night before Christmas” or told from the dog’s perspective, these yearly updates are riddled with misspellings and effused with twinkling embellishments. All of life’s boring details are absent. What is presented, especially if the author has children, reads like an application to Harvard:

“Bobby had a terrific summer. After organizing a food drive for the poor in Haiti and being the youngest person ever to swim the English Channel, he finally broke the genetic code and cured cancer. He is super excited to start kindergarten this coming year, as he wants to restructure the curriculum and transform the school lunch program into a vegan-friendly environment.

“Leslie is also marvelous. Oh, how we looovee our Leslie! She has just returned from a mission trip to Africa where she personally dug a well for a village using a shovel she forged out of a mixture of discarded rubble and the contents of her make-up bag. Now that she’s home, she intends to finish her doctorate in pediatric medicine while modeling for Vogue in her spare time.”

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