The last, stressful hurdle of the Christmas season is over. The discussion (arguing?) is over, the job has been completed, and Jenny and I are still speaking.
I am, of course, talking about the annual Christmas letter that we slip into our holiday cards. Maybe, I should call it my Christmas letter because if Jenny had her way, we wouldn’t write one.
It all starts right after Thanksgiving when I begin mentioning that we need to get the Christmas letter written so we can send out our cards. Jenny just gives me that look, the “oh, here we go again” look.
She doesn’t think most people want to read a form letter from a family they only hear from once a year. She says Christmas letters usually fall into three categories – boring or bragging or both.
To me, sending our Christmas cards and a letter are important. It’s a chance to catch up with a friend from the dorm in college (now retired in Missouri), an Army colleague from Vietnam (now retired in Arizona) or people I’ve worked with over the years at newspapers around the country.
I know, I know, that’s what people do on Facebook or one of those other modern social-media things. But that’s not me. I don’t have a Facebook account and not much inclination to get one.
I like Christmas letters. I usually read the ones we get when the cards arrive, and then I put them away until time to send out cards the following year. Then I read them again and sometimes write a couple of personal lines in the card to go along with the letter.
Anyway, we didn’t get around to writing our Christmas letter this year until last Saturday, after school was out. I say “we,” but actually, Jenny points out, I should have said “Jenny.”
She says the discussion (arguing?) each year is because I whine for weeks about wanting her ideas for the letter, when I really just want her to do it while I sit on the couch.
“But you’re the best writer in the family. People always compliment your Christmas letters,” I said.
She finally agreed to put down some ideas in a first draft Saturday and then turn it over to me to write the actual letter.
When she got done, I changed three or four words and said, “It looks good to me.”
That made her really grouchy. She said she had done all the work, while I just sat on the couch and petted the dogs.
“But I addressed all the envelopes,” I said.
That’s not as big a job as it once was. When we got married 12 years ago, I was sending out about 120 out-of-town cards with Christmas letters. As the years have gone by, I’ve lost track of a lot of people, and others have died. This year I addressed 72.
Jenny said that she has had to write nearly all the letters since we’ve been married. She joked that she wasn’t sure our marriage could withstand a 13th Christmas letter.
At least, I think she was joking.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.