Monday, December 12, 2005

The Christmas Letter

Although much has been written about my Jewish tendencies, there is still one aspect of goyish -- even WASPish -- culture that I count myself extremely privileged to have a connection to. And that is The Christmas Letter. I feel very sorry for anyone who has yet to experience one of these, because they have the potential to turn otherwise boring, obscure relatives into unintentional comic geniuses on a level you can't imagine.

But first, a little background. Long before blogs, MySpace, or mass emailing ever existed, The Christmas Letter was the undisputed method of describing the important events of your life to a lot of people who didn't really give a shit. And even in the face of those new exciting technologies, The Christmas Letter survives thanks to scores of people throughout the Bible Belt who still chuckle to themselves at all the "neat" things you can do with Print Shop and a four-color printer.

I am related to some of these people. I don't see them regularly (or in some cases, ever in my life), but once a year I am reminded of their existence via the treasured letter that makes its way to my parents' mailbox. What a letter it is. The whole year is encapsulated in two to five pages, sometimes with embedded photographs. Without even looking at it, I can already list the topics that are sure to appear within:
  1. Job promotions and/or layoffs
  2. Travel (usually within the continental U.S., more specifically anywhere reachable by car)
  3. Attempts at home carpentry
  4. The brand new niece/nephew/grandbaby, and the mischief he/she is already getting into
  5. Health issues and/or death (always sandwiched between lighter things, of course)
  6. Community/church activities
Other stuff pops up from time to time, but this is usually the crux of it. And as varied as these categories are, they're inevitably united by a central theme. That theme, of course, is Jesus.

If you read these letters without knowing who Jesus was, you'd probably imagine him to be a charitable great-uncle, a helpful Human Resources manager, a sperm donor, a ruthless mafioso, or some combination thereof. Regardless, you'd sure come away with the notion that Jesus had one hell of a busy year. Jesus blessed the family with a baby, Jesus helped find us a new job, Jesus gave us some great weather this summer, and Aunt Lucille passed away but that's okay because it was the will of the Lord (who, we understand, signs Jesus's paycheck).

And then the letter ends, usually with "Warmest Wishes for a Blessed New Year" or something like that, and I'm left pondering what kind of crazy hijinks Jesus has in store for the coming months.

1 comment:

ElizabethSheryl said...

Nailed it right on the head. I'm living in Chistianvillentown and my soon-to-be sister in law had a few laying around, every other word was blessed or Jesus, and it was HILARIOUS...also sprinkled with marriage/babies/missionary trips to hondruas to clean teeth. heh.