Sunday, December 17, 2006
I know people who get positively incandescent about Christmas letters, but I'm not one of them. I don't care if your letter is photocopied. I don't care if every one of your children is a wonder-baby and the most brilliant child ever born. I'd rather read more than a Dear You love Me greeting on a card, learn more about your life during the year. And if you don't think your wonder-baby is a wonder-baby, then who will?
While there are friends you stay in touch with fairly constantly or intermittently through the year, there are other friends where a Christmas card exchanged is the main communication, and I'd rather learn your news through a Christmas letter than not at all. It's just not realistic to expect people to write pages the same to dozens of different recipients, when much of what they want to describe is the same.
The State Library of NSW has an archive of such letters (embargoed for research purposes for some decades, I'd guess, while the collection grows annually) from people who've been writing one for a long time. They will be fascinating for social historians of the future - illuminating the concerns and lives and achievements and thoughts of ordinary individuals. Linear lives of not the much-chronicled 'great and good', but the real people. Love that sort of social history. It would be marvellous if my grandmothers had written Christmas letters - but to my knowledge, they didn't.