Most of us have received them and they usually come to us from families we hardly know, who live far, far away. People whom we haven’t seen since Nixon was President. Even so, every year we become privy to all the intimate details of what purportedly happened in their highly exciting, award winning lives since their last Christmas brag fest. Of course, not all of the Christmas family newsletters we’ve received over the years resemble what I’m about to describe. Yet there’s been enough of them to wrap Christmas presents with until the year 2023.
These delightful documents are filled to overflowing with details I’m certain the well-meaning writers never meant to exaggerate, manipulate, or dare I say, even fabricate. Yet somewhere along the way, the writer who slaved away writing, and rewriting, the history of their family’s lives over the past twelve months decided maybe a little—or perhaps even a lot—of poetic license was perfectly acceptable. Then once the newsletter evolved over several drafts, it went from being what really took place, to an all-out Festive Family Fake Fest.
I doubt they don’t ever mean for it to get quite so out of hand. However, realizing their musings might be mundane at best, they wrap it all up nicely with expensive foil paper and an exquisite bow. They never once consider we’re on to what’s really inside their pompous package of self-praise.
For all those unsuspecting people who’ve never received one before, I believe that just as the word FRAGILE is written on a parcel containing breakable stuff, so should the words BRAG ALERT be boldly stamped on the outside of the envelope of most Christmas family newsletters.
Reading through one of these newsletters—which goes on for several pages—you become aware that not even every recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize combined could possibly accomplish, in their collective lifetimes, what these amazing families have done in the past year alone. Major achievement awards, badges of honor, photographs with world leaders, and thousands of well-deserved trophies must certainly cover the walls and mantels of their humble abodes.
Unbeknownst to whoever wrote it, instead of evoking envy, awe, and admiration, they end up producing smirks, sneers, and sometimes sympathy. Sympathy for the poor writer who spent so long putting together this fourteen-page pat on the back, because you know everyone else who reads it is going to be laughing just as hard as you are. One day the writer may go back over what they sent out, and if they happen to be in a far less stuck up state of mind than when they wrote it, they will inevitably die of embarrassment.
One thing I do admire about them—which the authors of these audacious annual autobiographies never planned for—is their creative usage of the English language. For example: “Martin was given the unanimous approval senior management to take his entrepreneurial skills to a whole new level, based on his dedication to the company.” Translation? The lazy bum got fired. Or better yet, this: “Garrett continues to excel in all his favorite upper-level high school courses, and displays great leadership qualities in his extracurricular activities.” Which translates into: the only course Garrett’s passing this semester is the Basket Weaving class given in the attic of the school, and he’s also the kingpin of a local gang.
I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a Daly Family Christmas Newsletter, but my creative writing skills would pale in comparison to the great works of art we’ve received throughout the years. So I think I’ll just stick to scribbling Merry Christmas inside the cards I buy in boxed sets from my local mega-mart, and leave it at that.
Taken from my book Christmas Madness, Mayhem, & Mall Santas: Humorous Insights into the Holiday Season.