Larry Banman: Nothing says Merry Christmas like a Christmas letter
December 10, 2007
There is something about Christmas that makes us want to tie up every loose end, mend every fence and give an account for the past year. The holiday falls near the end of the calendar year, giving it a sense of finality. For some people, the season that gives their life meaning (college football) culminates with the bowl season. Christmas is also one week ahead of New Year’s Day when many Americans drinks to excess on Dec. 31 and then, the next morning, promise themselves never to do that again. For many, it is time to start the first stages of preparation for income tax season. It is also the time when families gather, people travel and we deck the halls and sing “Auld Lang Syne.”
The easiest way to wrap up the previous year is to send the annual Christmas letter.
People of my generation have used that form of communication to send a greeting at Christmas to let others know they are appreciated. Businesses use the opportunity to thank clients and customers. Families sometimes use it to reintroduce themselves to relatives and to assure them they still exist.
My mother is a wonderful and diligent letter writer. She writes several time a year in a neat and tight cursive style. She writes to all five of her children. I, on the other hand, the one child who fulfilled her dream to be a writer, have failed to fire off a letter to his own mother for more than five years. Her other children are better are writing. All of them used to send me birthday cards, until they grew tired of not getting one in return. The excuse I always use is “I write for a living” and it seems to be a daunting chore to sit down and write for pleasure.
Christmas letters, for me, have fallen in the category of “daunting task.” I have, in the past, sent some rather clever Christmas letters. One year, I fashioned a one-page newspaper, complete with a family picture. (By today’s standards, the production looks amateurish. Fifteen years ago it was pioneer work). I have also written clever stories complete with riddles and analogies. Never satisfied with the typical, I always tried to make the letters a “production.” That was probably the main reason for the discontinuation of the letters. As I tried to get more clever, my production schedule kept getting pushed back. The letters were sent later and later. I started to miss the “mail-by-this-date-to-receive-by-Christmas” deadlines. Pretty soon, they were of the “Sorry this is late” variety and finally, I think, there was a mid-summer production that just rang hollow.
This year, for the first time in the past 15 to 20 years, my writing for the local newspaper has been greatly curtailed and I felt that old urge to write a Christmas letter. My wife pulled out some Christmas cards and suggested that I might send a few. I pulled out the old Christmas card list and realized it needed to be updated, badly. Many people have moved, several have married and a few, sadly, no longer are living.
I will start slow this year.
Something above, “Hope you and yours are doing well,” but something below a customized and personalized rendition of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Given the date on the calendar, I may still have to add a quick “sorry this is late” note.
If I was a little more electronically literate, I could send a group e-mail or even a mass text message. However, most of the people on my list still enjoy opening the mailbox and seeing a letter.
And, if all else fails and you are reading this, “We would like to wish you the most blessed of holiday seasons.” – From the Banmans.
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