It’s that time of the year again when thoughts of sugar plums and Santa’s elves and of scoring that great gift at Macy’s fight for space in our dreams with the real meaning of Christmas. We put trees up in our living rooms, deck the halls with holly, and hang evergreen wreaths on our front doors as tributes to the season. And along with all the other traditional things people do to commemorate the birth of Jesus and the spirit of giving, we exchange good wishes through the ritual of sending Christmas cards and letters.
Out of ideas this year for our Christmas letter, I consulted one of those online how-to-write-Christmas-letters sites and got depressed after reading that most people get 20 to 30 newsletters over the holidays. Woo is me, Don and I don’t get any where near that many. Pushing past that disappointing fact, I learned that you’re not supposed to brag in your annual written greetings. Shoot! That means I can’t tell you that I finally made a valiant effort to learn how to cook this year and along the way there hasn’t been a single fire in the kitchen.
Other specific suggestions found on the web for writing Christmas letters were:
1) Tell about births, deaths, marriages and moves. We have nothing new to report on those topics unless we can count the infestation of box elder bugs that moved into our south-facing siding last fall. I must admit, though, that it crossed my mind they’d make a good source of protein. But the Food Network didn’t have any recipes for box elder stew so I gave up on that idea rather quickly. Instead, every morning for a week I vacuumed those evil insects off the house while the dog tortured a few of them to death.
2) If you live in an unusual place, have an unusual job or took an unusual vacation, write about it. In the land of Don and Jean there are no jobs. (Retirement is a great perk of growing older.) Nor did we take an exotic vacation this year unless we count going down the international foods aisle at Meijer for the first time. Who knew it was there all along?
3) Tell about the best book you read this year. You’ve got to be kidding! Do people really put that sort of thing in Christmas letters? Just in case that’s true, you should know that I joined a book club this year and that I’m lusting after an i-Pad so I can read in bed like I used to do in my single-hood days. Next year, to spice it up, there’ll be a book report in our Christmas letter---or perhaps a review of the King Arthur Flour catalogue.
4) Tell about something cute the kids did. As you know we don’t have children to do cute things but the dog should count as our surrogate son and Levi likes to track bunnies in the back yard hoping to find the “chocolate” nuggets they leave him for treats. He’ll be three years old next month and he’s still bringing laughter and “oh, yuck!” moments into our lives.
5) Share little hints for making life easier. Seriously? Who does THAT in a Christmas letter? Okay, there’s always a first time for everything. Here’s my hint: When browning a roast in a cast iron Dutch oven don’t forget to take that blotter of white paper and plastic off the bottom of the meat. Burned plastic is so hard to remove from piping hot pots.
6) Keep it light. The holidays are supposed to be happy. Oh, sure. That’s an unrealistic bit of advice for writing Christmas letters. What if your best friend died, you lost your job and the universe is spinning out of control? What if you’re measuring up a refrigerator box to live in because your house is in foreclosure? Thankfully, none of those things are true for us this year and hopefully all our friends and family reading this letter can say the same thing.
7) Know when to quit. Don’t write more than one page. That must mean it’s time to say Merry Christmas and please accept our best wishes for a wonderful 2011!
From Jean with love from all of us---Me, Don and Levi the schnauzer