Essay: The Christmas Letter that Crushes the Christmas Spirit

Dec 21, 2016

Have you sent out your holiday cards yet? Many of us have or will send out cards that comprise a photo collage from the past year. There are dozens of websites that let you put them together with fairly little effort. That’s meant that fewer of us are sending the long update letter along with our holiday cards. But, as essayist Jim Spangler points out, they haven’t gone away entirely.

Tis the season – not just for Christmas cards, that’s the easy part – but for the Christmas letter. Some are funny, some are warm and fuzzy and then there is the dreaded brag letter. The letter that does not let the spirit of the season interfere with the writer’s enthusiasm for their own triumphs.

Having received a few of these over the years set me to thinking – what would the ultimate Christmas brag letter sound like? Well…try this one:

“Dear friends, relatives and business subordinates,

The Christmas season is a perfect time for our family to reflect on all our many accomplishments over the past year and review them for our acquaintances. Another reason is that Bill’s direct reports tell him how important our letter is because it is such an inspiration for our employees and their families.

Bill’s board of director duties keep expanding right along with his business reputation. On a recent trip to London he discovered a tailor shop that, rumor has it, suits up the royal family. So, if those suits are good enough for Prince Charles, well, enough said. Bill really enjoys his new Mercedes 999 convertible – we traded in the Jag – it seems that just everybody has one.

Emily is busy as usual with her modeling and voice lessons. It’s good practice for her as we are sure she will be elected Homecoming Queen, just as her mother was. Oh, I almost forgot, last week she was selected captain of the varsity cheerleading squad. Frankly, she is running out of high school honors to pursue.

We hope that Noah’s duties as football team captain, all state wrestler, leader of the debate team and editor of the school paper won’t interfere too much with his run for – you guessed it – student body president next year. We are sure he will win. Other students always gravitate to someone who can inspire them.

I just seem to get elected to more and more board positions. Even though they are all charities, it’s still such a strain to be an officer for so many worthy causes. But, we have to remember, especially at this time of year, that we are helping those who are simply less fortunate.

The house is finally ready for Christmas and like in past years it is a part of the Christmas Charity home tour. It’s a hassle with all the TV cameras and light stands around, but – anything for charity. From our family to yours, best wishes for a Merry Christmas and may you have a successful 2017 as we will surely enjoy.

Love,
The Jones ”

Now, having heard what may pass for the ultimate Christmas brag letter, let me end with this:

It is my fondest wish that you never receive a letter like this. If you do – my sympathies.
If you ever send a letter like this, it is also my fondest wish that your company goes bust, your kids run off to join the circus and the next time I see you, you will ask me, “Do you want fries with that?”

Lake Effect essayist Jim Spangler is a retired newspaperman who lives in Brookfield.