I love the newsletters that come in the mail this time of year and I don’t understand how they ever got to be the butt of sitcom jokes. I was worried that email and websites might slow the flow of information that comes inside Christmas mailers once a year, but so far so good. They’re arriving on schedule and to me they’re irreplaceable.
This year I received a letter from a family I used to babysit for. The parents of the kids I tended are now great-grandparents and they took their entire family – thirty something of them in all – on a cruise to Europe and then toured several countries. This letter is worth keeping just for the group photos of all those relatives in one family who work together in the family business all year and still have a great time traveling together.
I have two letters with stories of construction projects. One is from a Dad who spent months at his daughter’s house fixing it up so she can sell it because a divorce is on the way. One is from a couple whose home was severely damaged in a storm and they’re working to bring it back to life.
One letter this year devotes more than half of the page to a photo and stories about a beloved pet who passed away.
There is always at least one very glamorous letter. Sometimes it’s a grown child of old friends who undertakes an unusual line of work and brings all of us along, in the space of the one-page missive, into a world we wouldn’t have otherwise visited.
Then there’s a former boyfriend who’s kept his looks and his ambition and his intellect and his compassion intact and he’s made a glorious life, quite a photogenic life, with a beautiful wife and children and grandchildren. Their newsletter includes a photo of him and his wife on a yacht. Their letter also contains pictures of little ones romping around the family home in New England. I am most impressed with how very important those little ones are in the text written by the glamorous couple.
There are letters from several people I’ve worked with in broadcasting, and the news isn’t generally good this year, since broadcasting is re-inventing itself and cutting back jobs. Here’s a letter, though, listing all the things one friend plans to do now that he no longer needs to show up and talk into a microphone every day.
It’s still a few days before Christmas and other letters will arrive, I’m sure. There does seem to be a certain increase in sad news this year, and it might seem odd, at first glance, to choose to tell these stories inside a holiday greeting.
I’m grateful for each and every letter and every story and every insight into how people are handling the ups and downs in their lives. I love these once a year outpourings because I’m fond of letters in general – the kind we can hold in our hands – and getting a letter once a year is better than getting none at all.
Ó Anita Garner 2008