Today in My History
Books Read in 2019
THAT DARN CHRISTMAS LETTER
(This journal quietly passed 7,200 entries a couple of days ago and I didn't even notice!)
December 11, 2019
In the 1960s, when Walt and I married, lots of people sent out Christmas letters. They were in the minority, but still enough that there was the yearly battle in "Dear Abby" between the haters of Christmas letters and the justification of the writers of Christmas letters. I never could understand why people were so vocal, and sometimes downright vicious, about Christmas letters. Heck, if you don't like them, don't read them.
I always preferred a Christmas letter, even a bad one, to a card from someone I hadn't seen in years which had no personal note and just a pre-printed name on the bottom of it. But the whole point of Christmas greetings, whatever kind you prefer to send, is making a yearly connection with people in your past or present.
The best Christmas letter I ever received, and I kick myself for not saving it, was from a friend from high school. She wrote a letter about everything bad that happened to her and her husband through the yar. It was, of course, meant to be funny--and it was. Very.
The Christmas letter I rarely read was from a friend of Walt's from college (now deceased). I guess they were rather well to do and had two perfect children. Her letters were often three or four pages long and I swear any time one of her kids sneezed in an artful way, it made it into the letter. Every good thing, especially something expensive, that they did was discussed. The whole thing was the epitome of what people complained to Dear Abby about.
Then there was another friend who was into genealogy and would send multi page typed letters talking about the discoveries made during genealogy research. Relatives back many generations that we had no interest in.
But most Christmas letters were interesting to read, and let us get caught up on the lives of our friends and their children.
I always felt that if I wasn't interested in a particular letter, I didn't have to read it--and someone had put a lot of time into writing it and I appreciated that.
I think I wrote my first Christmas letter in 1966, after Jeri was born and the short letter talked about how she had grown from birth in April to December, and the places where we had taken her in the year. It also talked about our foster children, Hyun Joo in Korea and a new child, Alison, whom we had just started corresponding with. Obviously foster kids have been a part of our entire married life.
I always created the card myself -- you can see how artistic I am! This was one of the plainer ones.
I got better as the years passed. I always liked this one (which I could never do again because we then had FIVE children.
Jeri was the first one of the kids to design the yearly card, in 1972
Four years later, they all helped in the design.
(Jeri's nativity scene is on the back page). I eventually started printing just letters and enclosing them in pre-paid cards. Each letter has a paragraph about each kid and I loved this one from Tom in 1997. He was working for a bank and said "I figured the world of high finance to be the most direct road to the world of obscene wealth and corruption and may actually allow me to live out my pipe dream of donning an ascot and talking through my teeth to well-read yuppy types at cocktail parties in one of them fancy schmancy Manhattan penthouses. One can only hope." I think he achieved at least part of his pipe dream.
Through the years, fewer and fewer people sent out Christmas letters, and one year, succumbing to all the Dear Abby complaints, I actually did NOT write a letter, but got so much negative feedback that was the only year I did not write a letter. I marched on (as did Char, who sends out her annual "Blackford Bulletin" and my friend Alison whose holiday letter usually arrives around Easter...but it's written! We also eagerly await the annual letter of our friend Jane, who was an exchange student many years ago and whose daughter Caroline has visited us a couple of times too. Their family letter, written by Jane's husband is always a favorite.)
Tacky though mailed Christmas letters may be, I stopped mailing them in 1999. But I didn't stop writing them and got even more tacky. Now I post them as a web site and e-mail links to them.
I start thinking about the year's Christmas letter around Thanksgiving and always try to have it posted by the first of December, hoping to beat out my ex boyfriend Bill (a priest), whose card usually arrives the first or second of December. It's a thrill for me when I beat him, which I did this year.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Karen and I didn't have "train pictures" but we did have this
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This is entry #7203