Friday, December 09, 2005
A Christmas letter from the Perfect Family
Oh, dear. Here it is. Like clockwork. The annual single-spaced, 2-page, 10-pt. font size Christmas letter from a friend from my 1970's Oxford days, complete with obligatory shot of the family (or sometimes, just the kids) in Hawaii or Timbuktu or DisneyWorld. Once a year I get a complete run down of every activity - kids, plus mom and dad, and often the cat and dog - every movie, every concert, every out of town jaunt that happened during the previous year.
I cannot tell you how it thrills me to know that Young Master adored Chicken Little or that Little Princess went to a Nine Inch Nails concert. They've earned it, after all - straight A's in accelerated classes, stars of the baseball, swimming, or cheerleading team, not to mention the piano, gymnastics, and soccer camps. Every other word - for some odd reason - is in "quotes." Oh, and lots of exclamation marks. And the return address label? Name, address, and cartoon drawings of each family member. Why, "cute" just flew off the envelope! (Oh, dear, now I'm using quotes and exclamation marks.)
During my struggling single-mother days, I used to resent the hell out of these little holiday gloat-fests, but now I find them completely hilarious. Things are just a little too full of sweetness and light, leaving me equally full of wonderment and suspicion. Kate and I make a game of reading between the lines, putting in our own ideas of what my former Oxford classmate is really trying to tell us. (Suffice it to say, the letters are rife with illegitimate children, crack ho's, and suburban wife-swapping parties.)
I'm not opposed to Christmas letters, per se, and have a several friends who do a wonderful job of writing truth and humor and joy in their annual missives. And no one wants a letter full of gloom and doom and "we're divorcing, so he's an asshole." But, geez, rein it in a little, will ya? Maybe she ought to just blog all this and save the postage. (Hell, she may blog, for all I know - remind me to Google her.)
Yesterday, I mentioned David Sedaris' book of holiday short-stories Holidays on Ice. He has a great one in there in the form of a Christmas letter from the Dunbar family. Try to get your hands on it - you'll never read those annual laundry-lists the same way again.
I really do wish the very best for the Perfect Family and hope things aren't as dire as between-the-lines of their Christmas letter seem to reveal. And, shoot, keep those letters coming. We totally get a kick out of 'em!
Whew - glad I got that off my chest.