For all these years that everyone has been sending me annual updates on their lives and those of their families, I've felt vaguely guilty for not reciprocating. It's not as if nothing has happened in our lives for the last year (in any given year); it's just that I am always still confused about what really happened and what it all means in the putative "greater scheme of things".
I do know that there are some no-no's I must avoid:
I musn't call it a "Christmas Letter" or even an "Xmas Letter" because that implies that it's only meant for folks that celebrate Xmas. Which would be pretty ironic given my own distaste for what that particular holiday has been turned into by our greed-driven Corporate/Consumerist society. (Ack! Don't get me going.)
Bald-faced bragging is incredibly bad form, especially at this time of year when we are all supposed to have our empathic antennae tuned to the other instead of inward. So I can't tell you about stuff I'm proud of, with the possible exception of my children's accomplishments - and even that is really in rather poor taste. Fortunately I have already sent out dozens of Email notifications of these things during the year, when the anti-hubris injunctions were not in effect.
It should not run over one page, double-sided, single-spaced, in 8 pt font, because this season already kills enough trees, eh?
The font choice itself is a conundrum: if I expect anyone to actually read the thing, it would be more considerate to use at least 12 pt, if not 16 pt font, so that it will be easier to read - especially by my contemporaries whose eyesight is getting as bad as mine. But who can resist those lovely calligraphy fonts with all the swirls and wiggles?
Even without the above considerations, it is a mercy to avoid infinitesimal detail. Most people really don't want to know all the preparatory details of that Pfeffernüße recipe.
All things considered, the optimal form for the Holiday Letter would seem to be a short poem summing things up concisely. So I'll give it a try:
The trees are bare, the ground is froze,
we all can barely feel our toes,
Which signifies a time of celebration:
To raise a glass is not a sin,
nor are displays of wealth, if in
Defiance of Jack Frost's intimidation.
we labored much, accomplished more -
Read and wrote and traveled and enjoyed it.
We won acclaim, success and fame;
we joined and later quit the game,
But had some fun whenever we employed it.
The year reaches its nominal end
so that another can begin.
Let's hope the new brings nothing new to fear.
Let's fill it up with hope and cheer,
with winter whiskey, summer beer...
Remember, it is all uphill from here!