The ubiquitous Christmas letter (CLs). Doubtless you get one or two. Most come by snail mail, but with increasing frequency, some are emailed. CLs are well-meaning attempts to catch up with large numbers of people during the holiday season. They usually recount how the year was a blur of activity and frequently contain an apology for sending the CL instead of, say, a personal letter to the recipient.
Most CLs provide a look back at the year. Major events are covered in a journalistic style, minus the objectivity. In all fairness, there are sometimes mentions of sadness, pain, medical situations, and loss. That’s real. I believe using a CL to bring a lot of people up to date on such poignant issues is entirely understandable and acceptable. Otherwise, it might mean tiring individual mailing and phone time.
But to me, it’s the other topics covered that, in many ways, betray the purpose of the CL. Things like all the fun the writer(s) had that didn’t include the recipient.
“In August, we went scuba diving with friends Harley and Bernice in Aruba. It was such fun.”
“In October, we rented a motor home with friends Sidney and Penelope and drove across Canada. It was marvelous.”
“We snow boarded and partied at our mountain cabin in Puberty Rock with friends Reginald and Muffy. If you haven’t had mojitas in a hot tub in the mountains, you have not lived!”
“We flew to Bora Bora with friends Sherman and Lydia for two weeks of sun and fun. If you haven’t had mojitas in a hot tub overlooking the Pacific, you have not lived!”
The only problem is, your name is not Harley, Bernice, Sidney, Penelope, Reginald, Muffy, Sherman, or Lydia. So why are they telling you this? You have not seen them all year. But they sure managed to see a lot of other people.
Unless you are one of the chosen few friends who actually got to spend time with the writer(s), I think the CL is negative PR . The communication value is about the same. To communicate, why not simply send a card with a few hand-written lines on it. That has real meaning. People cherish that.