Rewriting History - The Annual Holiday Letter

Filed under: Holidays

Whether you are out getting the weekly groceries or gathering stuffings for those stockings, the most common lyrical ear-worm in December seems to be "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." However, according to the missives arriving inside Christmas cards, everyone I know has nothing but wonderfulness happen to them ALL THE TIME.

Never once has anyone mentioned a vaguely bad occurrence, admitted disappointment, or made a confession that the past year was anything less than exquisite. I'd make a special dinner and invite over the person brave enough to write, "Happy Holidays! 2008 held many parental challenges for us as well as countless snow days for the kids. Even now, just looking at a freshly shaken snow globe causes involuntary twitches that are only relieved by a double shot of bourbon." in their letter!

Nope, it's always a laundry list of Johnny's activities, how smart/unique/silly/amazing Susie is as evidenced by the numerous awards and honors which were bestowed (listed alphabetically), as well as a summary of the adventures and exotic trips the family took since last year's letter.

But it's not that hard to decode the real meaning behind the phrases used to make everything sound as holly jolly as possible. For example, if someone mentions their high school or college-age child is "reassessing" or "re-evaluating" their life choices, odds are good either their application wasn't accepted at the school they wanted to attend or that they flunked out and/or were fired from their job. Any mention of "excitement" or "challenge" is also a red flag. If a kindergarten year was describe as "filled with discovery and non-stop excitement" it likely means the little bugger was the class biter and was thisclose to being tested for rabies and expelled.

Rather than try to linguistically sugarcoat the past year, I find it much less stressful to just put it all out there rather than have to maintain a veneer of perfection the rest of the time. One year I used a Top Ten format to list the things the kids learned and included: "It's not a good idea to pee in the neighbor's yard." on the list.

Another year I did a brief monthly summary based on the old calendar which included who had hospital visits and for what (stitches and croup played major roles, but there was also an oral surgery to removed a 3rd front tooth embedded in the roof of one son that I theorized must be a recessive gene from my in-laws) ((They all called to assure me the mutant gene wasn't from their DNA, but I still don't believe it.)) and in another I use an ABC format. I don't remember everything on it, but I do remember I managed to use every letter and that A was for "Appliances-the stove, dishwasher, and the refrigerator all reached their expiration dates and died, which, despite what my husband says, is NOT THE SAME as getting a new kitchen."

My family is far from perfect, but they sure are entertaining and that's worth a mention in a yearly letter!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.