Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Letters...It’s a Wonderful Life Isn’t It?

“You keep on talking about the good life, Elton, 'cause it makes me puke.” – Bobby Dupea

(Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie, Five Easy Pieces.)

I will admit to being somewhat of a scrooge when it comes to Christmas. Christmas holds religious significance for me and I really enjoy the way little kids get so excited about Santa Claus. But, I could do without the rest of it. Too many commercials, too many television “Christmas” specials, too much Christmas music playing in the background wherever you go, too many strangers expressing holiday greetings, too many parties, way too many decorations, just too much Christmas stuff period.

But, the thing that I dislike the most about Christmas is the “Christmas Letter”. It should be called the unaudited Annual Report of Your Wonderful Life. Who really wants to read one of these? If I care to know about your life and you care that I should know, then we need to be in contact on a regular basis. Especially in this age of instant information and communication. If I don’t know what’s going on in your life, I probably don’t care to know or need to know. And if I do know what’s really going on in your life, it is likely that I know a lot of stuff you definitely don’t want in your Christmas Letter.

Most Christmas Letters are all about what a wonderful life the person is living. If anything negative is mentioned it’s usually about someone else. But it doesn’t qualify as gossip because it’s “for the best” or a “blessing in disguise” or we need to “keep them in our prayers”. People who write Christmas Letters always have great jobs. Their homes are new or newly remodeled. Worst case, they finally put in that pool they’ve always wanted. Their children are on the honor role. Mom has lost 10 pounds and Dad just ran his first marathon. People who write Christmas Letters always take great vacations and love to tell you about them. People who write Christmas Letters brag about the good deeds their family has done over the past year. People who write Christmas Letters are proud of themselves and you should feel honored that they have chosen to send you this letter along with an air-brushed photo of the family you wish you could be a part of.

Here’s my advice. If you have the urge to write a Christmas Letter, then write an honest Christmas Letter. Write down all of the good and the bad and the ugly. Write about the losses as well as the gains. Count your blessings and your bruises. Acknowledge your regrets and sorrows along with your hopes and joys. Write about what you need to do better next year, not just what you did well over the past year. Take your time and really think about your Christmas Letter. Read it at least three times. Once you are sure that you’ve written all that needs to be written, do yourself and your family and your friends and the hapless souls who somehow found their way into your address book a huge favor….delete it.

Now go… Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

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