by Suzannah Gilman, first published on The Gloria Sirens
There is the art of writing letters, and then there is the art of writing Christmas letters, which hardly anyone masters.
To write Christmas letters, a person will ideally have a highly-refined sense of how much overstatement, embellishment, and lies by omission others can stand. But if a person has no such sense, it would help for them to have a sense of irony so that when people say, “I love getting your letters,” they won’t get a swollen head.
I was brought up in a family of braggarts, all of whom were strangers to irony.
The other day, I mentioned my disappointment over that to my mother and she said, “Um… well, can you tell me what irony is?”
Those who could master the art of writing Christmas letters, because they know how to avoid horn-blowing and because they are blessed with irony, are the last people on earth who would write them.
When I was a child, my grandmother got long, Xeroxed, pride-filled Christmas letters from a distant relative, the most hyperbolic rundowns of a rather ordinary middle-class family’s year than most people can imagine. Maybe my grandmother and I were the only ones who read those letters with awe, ooh-ing and aah-ing over such grand exploits as her fifth cousin driving a golf cart in a small-town parade. We were much below middle class, and we were darn proud of being related to such accomplished people!
So when I had children and for the first time lived a life that seemed successful to me, (my husband had a full-time job, we were involved in our children’s education, we weren’t renters, and we had vehicles that were not in danger of breaking down), I started writing Christmas letters.
Read the rest here: Confessions of a Christmas Letter Writer