I always loved receiving holiday newsletters because they present a blog-like view, in Cliff’s Notes-length of what’s been going with a family during the last year. (My mother-in-law is the Jedi Master of these.) Hoping, perhaps naively, others shared this enthusiasm, we’ve put together one of our own for the last decade and a half. Content has not always been easy to create. For example, in good years, I’ve had less interest in writing for fear of bordering on the bragging side. In bad years, I’ve wanted to just vent: “My company hemorrhaged its market capitalization and the only thing I have to show for it is this itchy T-shirt and a pink slip.” Thankfully, most of my life is banal. (Just.. Like.. Everyone.. Else..)
Since having kids, creation of the Christmas newsletter has gone from being a source of enjoyment to being a chore. As in “Oh, crap, it’s December 13th and we still have to take pictures of the kids, summarize the whole year, print the letters, add a personal note and mail a hundred of these”. I suspect others are feeling the same way because there’s been a precipitous decline in the number of return cards, notes and newsletters. Or perhaps they’re trying to give us a hint?
Either way, the perception of choriness and our belief that there’s scant point in sending just a card without a note or picture tells me we should just take this year off.
While I’m on the subject, let me vent a moment about holiday shopping: there has got to be a better way. I will be the first one to admit near fatal incompetence at gift buying. (I have difficulty even with my spouse, and I’ve known her for 20 years.) This year, I ended up doing mostly gift certificates, and it’s not for lack of trying. For example, I stood in Fry’s groping for ideas for the gift for my sister-in-law’s husband. He’s an avid MMORPG fan, playing City of Heroes and World of Warcraft almost nightly. I assume he’s got that genre scoped out, but I wasn’t sure if he would he find amusement with “Prison Tycoon.” Or is he more a “Civilization IV” person? Or maybe he has both games and thinks simulations are for losers with coarse control of their motor skills? After pacing the aisles for an hour, my head hurt and I left without buying anything. Repeat seventeen times. And I’m sure they were at a loss for what kind of obscure biking doodad I might enjoy. Hmmm… “Jim is into cycling,” does that mean he’s a racer, mountain biker, unicyclist or …?
So, I think we’re making this too fomplicated and a source of mutual stress. For next year, I suggest we not buy presents for anyone over thirty. Instead, buy yourself something special or, better yet, let’s try to see each other more often?