Silver Threads: Brag
“Dear Bettye, Merry Christmas! I hope you are doing well. It’s been a great year for the Hinkelhorphs. Travel, college graduations and a wedding!
“We’ve so sorry you and Elmore couldn’t join us last spring for the latter occasion and meet our Diana’s wonderful new husband. Fotherwell is a terrific guy, educated at Princeton and now— at only 25 years of age! — working as a data analyst for Romaine-Lilliburt for $250K per annum.
“The destination wedding was fabulous, if I do say so myself. The Bahamas were beautiful and the partying great, courtesy of Fother’s granddad, who’d asked on old friend — Tony Bennett — to entertain us. Naturally, he brought Lady GaGa along!
“Then it was only a jump to Paris, where we celebrated our twins’ magna cum laude graduation from Harvard law school with two weeks at the George Cinq hotel and ‘round the clock shopping ..…”
Okay, okay — so maybe I exaggerate a little. But who among us hasn’t received a Christmas letter that made us momentarily regret our miserable lives?
At this point you’ve probably days ago sent out your own Christmas letters, if you bother in this era of Facebook, where all things, large and small, embarrassing and uplifting, are instantly made known.
So when I googled “Christmas letters” I was surprised at the number of websites offering advice on writing them. “Resist the urge to embellish,” read a line on the website Organized Christmas: “It's a holiday-time stereotype: the braggin'-braggin' Christmas letter. While it's only natural to put your best foot forward, keep your perspective as you write. Your true colors and real personality are a lot more interesting to your friends than a puffed-up presentation of the year's events.”
That’s advice that the mother-of-the-bride quoted above would have done well to follow. But it’s certain she would never have mailed a missive in line with the Being a Mom website’s advice “to keep it humorous”:
“John spent most of the year fishing, hunting, working and shirking all responsibilities at home. When he is home, we do our best not to fight about him not being home and how he can’t even just do a basket of laundry now and then.
“Janie, our oldest, started dance this year. She tried out for the Nutcracker and earned a spot as a snowflake. Of course, everyone who tried out got a part and the two minutes she was on stage she sobbed. We are so proud. Janie is also excelling in school. She studies hard and is the teacher’s pet. Our therapist says she does this to win our love and affection.
“Justin got kicked out of kindergarten for pelting the teachers with snacks. This is our third kindergarten this year! I tell everyone he’s just active and too smart for those cro-magnum learning environments, but I’m seriously worried he’s going to knock over a liquor store by the time he hits third grade.”
Wow — now there’s a Christmas communication that can make anyone — perhaps except Janie and Justin’s grandmothers — feel good about their own lives.
Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.