The whole year on one page

It’s time for the publishing event of the Mitchell family year. No, not another one of my not-very-good columns in the Gazette, like the one you’re reading now. I’m talking about the Mitchell family Christmas letter.

Sometimes I agonize about it for weeks, trying to put the family’s best foot forward. Some years that’s harder than others. But this year has been OK:  We’ve got jobs, Joe is in school at Ole Miss, our family members who live far away are healthy, and the family pets all made it through the year, too.
Jenny asks every year if I’m going to include a Christmas letter in the 90 or so cards I send out to friends from college or the Army or newspapers where I’ve worked over the past 45 years.
She says that most people don’t want to read Christmas letters because they fall into three categories—boring or bragging, or both. She thinks I should just skip it.
But me being me (stubborn), that’s not going to happen. I guess she has figured that out because this year she hardly said anything when I mentioned it was time to get it done.
I like Christmas letters. I read them when the cards arrive, and then I put them away until time to send out cards the following year. Then I read them again so I can write a personal line or two in the card to go along with my printed letter.
To me, I’m doing the friends on my Christmas card list a favor. I condense the year to just one page. That way, they aren’t subjected to the day-to-day annoyances that I might be tempted to regale them with if I had a Facebook or Twitter account.
For instance, they didn’t get an instant update Sunday on how irritated I was in Walmart.  The first cart I got had a chunk of rubber missing from a front wheel. There was a loud thump-thump-thump as I headed to the produce section. I went back to trade for another cart.
The next two I tried were wedged together so tightly that I couldn’t separate them. The third went thump-thump-thump. I gave up and thump-thump-thumped through the grocery aisles.
See, Christmas letters have their advantages. And the Mitchell family letter still is produced in the traditional way. We print it out, fold it up and insert it in our holiday cards.
A colleague suggested it would be easier, and save paper, to just send it out by e-mail. He said it would be cheaper and I might as well take advantage of technology.
I remembered how a friend of mine was upset that his college-age son had sent his mother an e-mail birthday card. He told his son that if he was too lazy to stop at the store and get a card to mail, that he should just not bother at all.
That doesn’t mean I’m against technology, though. I’m actually quite proud of myself this year. I finally learned how to put the Christmas address list into the computer and have it turn the list into mailing labels. No more addressing cards by hand.
Unfortunately, what the computer can’t do is write the doggone letter. Jenny has said she’s too busy to help this year, and Joe is in North Carolina visiting his dad and grandmother.
That means it’s my job this year. I’ll start with the boring part (jobs), end with the bragging part (Joe’s grades, we hope), and thump-thump-thump my way through the rest of it.
Maybe Jenny is right.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at publisher@newalabanygazette.com.
 

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