Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Man of Letters

Yesterday I read a blog from one of my favorite bloggers, Gutsy Writer http://www.gutsywriter/blogspot.com who took the position that a case can be made for not buying Christmas presents. Her arguments as always were persuasive and well founded, I just don’t happen to agree with her (sorry, Sonia). But it started me thinking about another commonly criticized practice, the Christmas Letter.

My wife asked me if this year’s letter was the 50th or 51st in our long history of proselytizing the practice. I was able to look in a hardcopy file and find that it was the 51st, the first being written the first year of our marriage, when I was a navy dentist in San Diego. We had less than two months to compose ourselves and a letter to explain to friends and family all the things going on in our lives. It seemed a letter covering the general facts and supplemented by a personal note at the bottom was a reasonable model.

Each year since we have tried to keep our holiday correspondence personal as well as descriptive of what has turned out to be a very busy and active life. For many years the letter has developed a style that receives almost universal appreciation from the recipients. There is a scripture reference that ties in to a quote of the biggest news story of the year (this year it was the mid-term election), both in a highlighted box at the top, balanced by religious art on the left.

Then, we have four paragraphs the chronicle the activities of Mary and me, our two grown sons and a few grandchildren from the older’s family. Finally there is a closing paragraph that covers guests in the last year and hopes that more will join those ranks in the upcoming year. There is enough room on the single page for a three or four sentence personal message. Sometimes we include a picture. On occasion I think there may be a book there.

We send a few more than 100 each year and try to get them to recipients before Christmas. Mary is better at that than I am. But then I have to shop for presents.

How do you feel about Christmas letters? Write them? Enjoy receiving them?

BTW I think there are some good fruitcakes too, including the recipe of my mother-in-law.

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