Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Alternative Christmas Letter

(The idea for this letter came from the comments section of SCL months ago. If this is your idea, give me a shout and I'll give credit where it's due.)

Christmas brings out strange behavior. Case in point, the traditional Christmas letter. You know what I'm talking about. Or maybe you've even sent one yourself, I know I have. It generally goes something like this:

1) Pay a photographer $500 for 1 picture in which every member of your family looks perfect. Usually this involves matching Polos and lots of airbrushing.

2) Write an exaggerated narrative about family events over the past 12 months. For example, "Jill learned to color" becomes "Jill, though only 2, shows artistic promise as she boldly experiments with color and design". Or, "Life really sucked this year. The fact that we never heard from you once means you're a jerk" becomes "God is teaching us to depend on Him in this season of growth".

3) Send the photo and the letter to people you haven't seen in at least 3 years. Why? Because they're uppity! Remember how they snubbed you after they moved to a nicer neighborhood? How they didn't invite you to their annual Earth Day Granola Munch? Those people deserve a filp o' the ol' Partridge In A Pear Tree, don't you think? The best way to do that is send a letter, where you look and sound perfect so they have to stop and wonder if snubbing you was such a good call.

I must admit, we get lots of these traditional Christmas letters. I don't think we ever snubbed anybody, but still, they roll in every year. Wanna hear a secret? (Lean in close to the screen - I'm whisper-typing.) We don't always read them. They get old and boring and...well...we really don't care how great a soccer player your kid is.....or how your new job as hot dog vendor at Weenie Time is a blessing....or how your new puppy, Mr. Poopsy Pancake, is so very, weary silly-willy....JUST MAKE IT STOP ALREADY!!!!

So, in response to the throng of Christmas letters that flood our mailboxes every year, our family has chosen The Alternative Christmas Letter approach. What you are about to read is the actual Christmas photo and letter we are sending this year. But I wanted to share it with you first.

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas! We wanted to send you a letter to let you know what we’ve been up to this last year.

We still live in a house. It is in Kentucky. We live close to some family members, but far away from others. We try to get together. Sometimes it works out and we have fun. Other times it does not.

This year we all had birthdays. We have a tradition where we give gifts and have cake. Sometimes we have ice cream, other times we do not. We also blow out candles, which is nice. Every person gets cake because it is good to share.

Dan has a job. He works hard. He gets up, goes to work, works all day and comes home just before dinner. Most days he does this, some days he does not. On the days he does not work he is sick or it is a weekend or maybe even a holiday.

Both kids are in school. Our daughter wakes up every day. So does our son. They put on clothes, eat breakfast, and get in the car. She goes to school and stays until she is picked up. She also eats lunch nearly every day when she is hungry.

Our son goes to school some days, other days he does not. On the days he goes to school he has a good time. He colors some. He listens to some stories. He plays outside. When he is done he comes home. On the days he stays home he plays with toys and sometimes watches a video. But every day he eats lunch.

Stacy stays home some days. Some days she goes out to the store. She buys food and sometimes even underwear or shoes for the kids. Most days she makes dinner. Some days we eat chicken. Other days we eat beef or sandwiches. Usually there is a vegetable but not always. When dinner is ready we like to eat it. We use forks except for when we have soup.

We had all four seasons this year. In the winter it was cold for the most part. Some days it snowed. We would look outside and say, “Look. Snow.” We enjoyed saying this. Then we had spring. Some days it was warmer, other days it was not. Then summer came. When it was hot we would come inside. When we did this we might have a cold drink or say, “It’s hot today.” But we did not say that every day, just some days. Then it was Fall. We had colder weather. The leaves came off the trees. “Look”, we said. “Leaves.”

Some of you are nice to us. We try to keep in touch. If you send a letter we will read it. If you call we will answer the phone. We like to say things like “Hello” and “How are you?” Being nice is good.

It has been so good to catch up with you. Merry Christmas.

Have a nice day,

The Smalls


38 comments:

alicia said...

Fantastic.

Jen said...

I love it.

Donna said...

heh heh heh....

jennyleigh said...

Priceless.

Dog snob said...

Shoot, If I could get away with that, I'd write a Christmas letter. Maybe I'll put one on my blog this year using your example as inspiration.

vanilla said...

How timely. Beloved Beautiful Better Half just yesterday said we must get the Christmas letter written. I lay awake half the night trying to figure out how to get out of it. Now, thanks to you, I have a model to use and everyone will be happy.

vanilla said...

btw, how did the four of you hold the pose without someone bursting into giggles?

wv: defustes
that is defustes time I ever got a Christmas card from Stacy.

Marni said...

The letter is almost as good as the picture.

Were you trying to look sullen and dull or were you merely trying to be a Calvin Klien photo where you were trying to be cool with that whole "I'm too cool to look as if I actually enjoy my life"?

Julianna said...

I love it!! I have often not read Christmas letters we have received. I think this one would definitely catch my eye. Very creative!!

Skerrib said...

Rock on. I was thinking about doing a Christmas quiz this year to mix it up, but this is a distinct possibility.

Christy said...

Good one! I tend to speed read Christmas letters.

WV: shuth KJV for 'shut'
"Shuth up thou mouth!"

SirMax said...

Oh my...that is priceless. I actually do these letters but I send them to my husband's family in Holland so they enjoy them. Gotta write mine today!

Rebecca said...

Ha! This is great :) In fact, just inspired me to do a post about Christmas letters myself!

Brenda said...

Lol, this was great! Every year I look forward to receiving Christmas letters from certain relatives and friends because I know I'll get a good chuckle. They don't intend for them to be funny, but they definitely are.

Ryan B said...

I guess I'm an odd ball because I like reading Christmas letters. It might be because we only get like three or four a year. I'm only 18 so my parents have a lot more friends than I know of and I like to read about who these people are that my parents talk about.

Also, if the letter is from one of my friends I like to think about what it says because I can remember being there or hearing about it.

I really did like your letter though. The picture was priceless. I did notice that you only use forks and spoons. No knives?

Charlotte said...

I just had to de-lurk to say how much I loved this!
I wandered over here via Stuff Christians Like.

Lynn said...

One of the best Christmas letters I have ever read... okay... one of the ONLY ones I have read... mostly I just skim over them... but this one... a real treasure!

Anonymous said...

Bahahaha! Love it!

~Lois

Gabrielle Eden said...

Too wordy.. Just kidding.

Beth said...

True story. Two years ago, my dad photoshopped a picture of my husband's smiling head to appear next to my smiling head because my parents didn't have any "good" photos of us together...and they put THAT in the Christmas letter. I'm sure all of their friends thought we were having marital problems. If they actually read the letter.

This. Was. Awesome. I feel avenged. I just may copy and paste your letter but put my own family's names in it.

Jen said...

Perfect. I expect that in my mailbox with the catchy "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" card. TYVM.

Jordan said...

Thanks SO much for making my day! I was eating dinner while I read this and I laughed so hard I spat my food everywhere and had to wipe my computer!
Thanks again, awesome!
wv: wigundol - (wig-on-doll) What barbies dolls have to wear when you cut off their hair!

Rick the Polonian said...

This makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I want to blatantly rip if off and use it for Christmas letters this year (however, that would be wrong of me, so I won't).

KatieHen said...

this is hilarious. i love it!

bub said...

OMG that picture was too funny! I really LOL'ed when I saw it.

BeckeyZ said...

Priceless!

My mom used to get a Christmas letter from a family they knew ages ago. I would always read it out loud and we would laugh hysterically (and their letters weren't even that funny). I just read yours out loud to mom and we relived some wonderful memories. Too funny.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Stacy, you truly put the FUN in dysFUNctional.

word verification: desses, as in:
Desses one of the bestest Christmas letters we've gotten from the Smalls.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

That was awesome. I think everyone here could basically rip it off and use it and it would still be topical. That's just how interesting and unique everyone is.

Momuv5 said...

Wow Stacy you are super mom. Our family uses their hands to eat pizza, fried chicken and tacos. I didn't teach mine to use forks or spoons when they eat those foods. I love the letter. I also read the letters I get because I don't talk to those friends all year and the letter keeps me up to date on what's going on in their lives. We haven't really had any letters that made us think we weren't doing so well, in fact last year, no joke we found out a cousin almost died and a friends dad too. That's all I have to say.

Elaine said...

This was too funny.

JennyM said...

I love this. On my blog a few years ago I did the fake letter and nearly passed out writing what I WANTED to say, but couldn't because all the in-laws would think I'd meant every word. Yeah cuz like I'm going to write "And Lydia is a self absorbed air head with a entitlement complex bigger than my hips"???
HA! I did write that... in my blog!!!
I can't even get cards out, letter alone write the perfect letter.
Maybe I'll send out one for the Ides of March.

wv-hoticher...when a wool sweater becomes too much.

Tiffany said...

that's hilarious-i love the blandness of it. "some days we do this, some days we do not".

Christina said...

Oh. My. Word. If only it wasn't the middle of the night. I'm laughing so hard and I'm terrified of waking up my neighbours in res. This is without a doubt one of the best Christmas letters I have ever read. We do have one family that sends out a fantastically funny one every year, but the rest are the worst drag. Some of them come from families with whom we have not otherwise communicated for a good 20 years, I'm sure. And we're a family of 6, so if we're supposed to all be smiling then every family member usually gets an individual shot. Another fun way to do a Christmas letter is to blatantly parody the traditional one. "Little Sally is displaying exceptional signs of genius. Rumour has it that her teachers have taken to calling her Einstein amongst themselves. Moreover, she is such a fantastic witness for sweet baby Jesus. Already she has led 15 of her kindergarten classmates to Christ..."

Matt and Becca said...

oh my gosh, i wish i could receive a letter like this every year. i'm trying to do the whisper laugh because my kids are napping!

T and T Livesay said...

Laughing ... thanks!

MangyCat said...

This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing. I do get tired of all those drummed up letters sometimes. It's nice to read a dash of realism. :oP

Sarah Key said...

Oh my goodness, I actually had tears by the end I was laughing so hard. AWESOME!

vanilla said...

I came back to read this again five years after the fact. A poignant reminder of how much we miss you in the blogosphere, Stacy.