How (not) to write a Christmas letter

I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to formulate a Christmas card for the season.  I usually spring for a nice picture with a simple message, but since we’re low on cash this year, I thought I’d generate something off of my own computer.  My problem is that I can’t figure out how to tell people what we’ve been up to without sounding like I’m bragging.

Ah, the brag letter.  I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about.  When you get a double sided, single spaced letter in the mail posing as a Christmas card, and you think, “Did they really use size nine font?” Let me be honest — I don’t read it all.  I’m sorry.  I want to, I do.  I want to know how you’re doing, how your health is, a highlight or two about your pets (or your kids….I guess…), and I want you to wish me a non-denominational salute to the season.  But when you start talking about your neighbor’s friend and their kids and how their shopping trip to Wal-Mart went awry, I lose interest.

Now, many folks who can’t detach from writing a brag letter have made their brag letters funny, which I appreciate.  My extended family in particular has a great sense of humor, and I have to give props for Christmas poems in which all of their kids are mentioned and rhymed with.  I don’t know if I’m funny enough to pull that off — if you haven’t figured it by now, most of my humor is sarcastic and until people really get to know me, they usually walk away from my jokes with a confused look on their face.  The last thing I want to do in a Christmas letter is leave people confused and unsure.  They have Christmas shopping for that.

If I wrote a brag letter that tried to be funny, it might come off sounding like this:

  • We are healthy! The proof is that after 30, we still look good naked.
  • My pets are cuter than your kids.  That’s just the way it is.
  • I completed school to become an Ayurvedic Practitioner!  Look it up.
  • My husband loves his job as an Assistant Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (Purely bragging there).
  • This year, my husband designed and built the “Sea phOx,” and “SeaphEt.” Look it up.
  • I became a certified YogaSlacker Teacher.  I teach yoga poses on a one inch piece of webbing strung between two points.  Yes, it’s very awesome.
  • I painted an enchanted forest in my murphy bed closet.  Why?  So I can sleep in enchanted fairy land whenever I want.  Duh.
  • Stop asking me when I’m going to have a baby.
  • Stop asking my husband when I’m going to have a baby. 
  • Stop asking my parents when I’m going to have a baby.
  • I’m going to India for a month to study and travel.  Pray not for my safe return, but that I choose to return!
  • We’d love for you to join us in San Diego for a vacation so that you, too, can sleep in enchanted fairy land.
So, I have some drafts to work through….
But all kidding aside, what I want to express to people in a Christmas letter is that the JOY and PEACE we promote during this season must come from within.  It’s a good time to learn how to lay down your prejudices and find the goodness in everyone around you –whether they are the same as you or not.  Learn to cultivate gratitude for the blessings that we have, that our biggest decision for the holidays is whether to buy an XBox or a Wii, not how to put food on the table.  Give to those in need.  Learn to cultivate peace within yourself and to stop arguing with family and friends.  Cherish the day, because we don’t get that many.

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