Tidings of lactose and soy

In preparation for a brilliant late-life writing career, I spent 30 years writing the annual Christmas letter. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of making your life sound more interesting than it is. Unless you invented a cure for herpes last year, you’ll need to find something compelling to grab your readers’ attention. Your friends and family are just going to skip over the story of how you found a dead lizard in your shoe.

This year, I have two strikes against me in my effort to entertain and inform. 1) My kids have moved out and are making up their own misleading letters; 2) I have no cute grandchildren doing cute grandchildreny things. This calls for drastic action, in the form of extensive lying. Face it, nobody wants to hear about how you developed lactose intolerance and had to switch to soy milk.

I’ve listed some do’s and don’ts for getting your Christmas letter to the top of the rubbish pile of cherished holiday missives.

Do: Include a photoshopped picture of you with Carrot Top. This is a classic ice-breaker, which will peak the reader’s curiosity. No one can look away from a train wreck.

Don’t: Talk about your dog, unless he rescued midgets from a burning building. Your friends will not be impressed with his ability to eat stuffed animals and then knit sweaters in his rectum.

Do: Use spell check. It’s just plain embarrassing when you misspell Ponzi, or leave the silent “C” out of “indictment.”

Don’t: Talk about medical issues. Let me be brutally honest: your friends don’t care if your bones can snap in a strong wind. They will perceive your ____________ (insert random –ectomy here) as a shameless bid for attention.

Do: Trot out your accomplishments. Maybe you didn’t get a personal invitation to go to the space station (I got mine yesterday). You can still impress your friends with your mastery of Swahili, ballroom dancing, and taxidermy.

Don’t: Gossip. You don’t want Uncle Trevor’s affair to eclipse your own news, unless you were the other woman in question.

Remember that Christmas letters are a marathon, not a sprint. You can brag about your new baby seal fur coat next year. So get your creative juices flowing, and remember that I have dibs on solving world hunger this year.

19 thoughts on “Tidings of lactose and soy

    • One major plus – it makes them easier to spot when you’re picking up the back yard.

  1. This post validates the very reasons I stopped writing Christmas letters a few years back. I simply have nothing to say that doesn’t involve bodily fluids or random chin hairs. It’s sad, really. And my grown kids? Well, IF they are writing their own Christmas letters, they sure aren’t sending me a copy. I could pull the “you never call your poor Mother!” act but I’d risk them phoning me and reading said letter to me. No thanks. The voices in my head are chatty enough.
    LOVE the title of the post. I started laughing before I began reading. I was trying to get a head-start. Good thing, too, because it was hilarious!

  2. My daughter inherited her letter writing skills from me, so it’s a safe bet that there will be ninjas and dancing squirrels.

  3. Loved it, esp the part on the dog. I have never ever done a Christmas letter – just too lazy.

    • I only skipped a letter the year that I got a call from the police station in the middle of the night. You don’t want to include a mug shot in the holiday letter.

  4. And if Uncle Trevor is already the ballroom dancing taxidermist Swahili speaker who’s about to go to the Space Station, you’re pretty much screwed on the “look what I did this year” front….

  5. Now I know why I’ve never written a Christmas letter.

    I have a cousin who could have done one just about his dog, though. His dog Fred would retrieve beer. And the dog was always getting picked up by the police. When he got old and senile, he’d get lost and they’d bring him home.

    I should have let Sam write our Christmas letters….

  6. Accomplishments in a Christmas card?? If I have to brag to my friends than they don’t know me very well. Maybe I’ll send everyone a resume. Good idea, this manuscript seems to be stagnating and I don’t see an advances in my near future. 🙂

  7. What the hell is the comment above mine talking about? Their comment is longer then your post. I love to get Christmas newsletters but they are a dying art form. Now no one has time to mail Christmas cards let alone write a letter. I would love to get your letter because it would probably be hilarious like your posts.

  8. I’ve never written one. I have gotten a few over the years from friends, and I have to admit I barely skim over them before trashing them. I assume if it’s important, I already know it, and if it isn’t important, then I don’t need to know it.

  9. Shhhh, be very quite… there be spammers here….

    I trust you’ll be rid of this one soon enough.

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  11. I suspect the title’s what’s brought out this bunch of odds and ends. Put that into a tweet, and they descend like vultures on you.

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