Parenting

Why I hate Christmas letters

Ian would prefer if family and friends left him off their Christmas mailing lists.

Photo: coloroftime/iStockphoto

Dear friends, family, neighbours and marginal co-workers,

I am writing this letter to let you know that you won’t be receiving a Christmas letter from me this year. And I hope that given the spirit of the holidays, you will return the favour by not sending me one as well.

To be brutally honest with you, I look forward to receiving your annual Christmas letter in my mailbox about as much as I enjoy getting my credit card statement in January. And once I do open your letter, I read it with the same passion and enthusiasm as the guy who checks your receipts on the way out of Costco. I will give it a quick glance, but that’s about it. And I mentally check out after a sentence like, “Then in May we celebrated Grandma’s 85th birthday.”

I don’t want to sound like a total Scrooge, but the act of sending out Christmas letters seems really outdated to me.

For starters, if we are friends on Facebook, I already know too much information about your life. I am aware that your daughter went to Orlando for a dance competition in April. I have seen dozens of pictures of your new dog. And each time one of your kids aces a math test, I not only read about it — but my finger hovers over the “de-friend” button for 15 seconds. Our lives are already too entangled on the web, so don’t feel the need to add the obligatory Christmas letter, which basically is just a Facebook recap of the past 12 months.

In addition to that, you probably haven’t done anything extraordinary that I haven’t already heard about. I never read a Christmas letter and yell at my wife, “Hey Sonia — did you know that your cousins took part in an exploratory colony on the moon last spring?” Or, “When did Steve and Stacey’s son start playing for the Yankees?”

It never plays out like that, because if you or someone in your family did something extraordinary, we would already know about it by now.

It’s always the same old vanilla story for every family. The kids are doing well. Our jobs are going well. And we took a vacation at some point. We have been blessed this past year and wish the best for you too.

Blah, Blah, Blah.

I would be more open to hearing about your family’s year if you were brutally honest in the letter. For example, something like this might actually be worth reading:

Hi everyone,

So, 2012 has been a pretty lame year. We are not attaching a family photo to this year’s letter because we all look the same and we didn’t feel like trying to find different matching Christmas outfits for the fifth straight year.

Dylan is involved in a lot of activities at school. He’s starting to learn the trombone but, sadly, it sounds like a pigeon is being bludgeoned to death every time he plays. We also have him playing soccer, but we’re pretty sure he only goes to eat the orange slices at halftime. Hannah is your typical teenage girl. We are totally freaked out by her obsession with Twilight and we actually haven’t been inside her bedroom since early May.

Mike’s job is going well down at the firm, but we had some issues when I caught him flirting with his secretary over email in March. We decided to break the tension with a family trip to Florida in the early summer, but since we’re tight on cash, we paid for it using our line of credit. We think we’ll have that trip paid off by 2017.

We hosted everyone for Thanksgiving this fall and once again, my mother-in-law implied that my turkey was too dry. I would like to imply that she is a control-freak, but since it’s the holidays, I am going to take the high road.

We’re celebrating Christmas here at home because there isn’t enough alcohol in the world to get me through another family Christmas with the in-laws.

All the best in the coming year,

The Smith Family

Now wouldn’t you love to read a Christmas letter like that?

So, unless you’re willing to be honest with how your year really went, do yourself a favour and save the money on postage. Nobody really wants to hear about how your year unfolded. Chances are, we probably know too much about you anyway.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my Christmas update.

I am wishing you a joyful holiday season and a happy new year. May 2013 bring you much happiness and joy — along with fewer Christmas letters from friends and family.