A bit of a dust-up!

I write this having taken down all my Christmas decorations and packed them away. This was followed by dusting away all that had accumulated since the decorations went up – that’s a good three week’s worth – and in this house that is DUSTY!

Not because I usually dust every day ( Hahahahaahaa! *picks up self from floor*) no, just because old houses, especially those with coal (anthracite grains) fired boilers and wood-burners, seem to create dust at an unbelievable rate.  However, with every surface bestrewn with cards, beads or tinsel you couldn’t see the dust to worry about it …. so I didn’t HAVE to dust it! (HURRAH! sometimes I wish it was Christmas for longer)

As I was packing away said cards I came across the round robin Christmas letters, tucked behind the crocodile (not a real one), and took time to read them properly, as all I’d been able to do was to give them was a cursory scan when they arrived, such was the manic pace in the house pre-Christmas. They ranged from a third of a page apology for not writing more – but the year had been so horrible there was nothing good to write – to a full, small-font, three pager, complete with photographs, from family on the other side of the world. Given the time to read them, I was glad to catch up with old friends (yes, some of whom we have not seen for YEARS!).

Am I complaining? Hardly! I am also one who sends an update with a Christmas card to selected people – a single sheet of largish font with pictures to break it up a bit, and each year I wonder if it is well received or not.

This year, for the first time, I received a few hand written cards  with a p.s. saying ‘thanks for the update – it’s nice to know how everyone is getting on’ … and that is the answer I shall continue to work by.

In the press, however, there has been a bit of a dust-up* over these letters, largely spiked by Lynne Truss (author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves) who wrote a series of satirical replies to christmas round robin letters broadcast on Radio 4- which would give anyone pause for thought before sending their own missive next year.  [*did you see that .. how I linked the dusting to the letters  – haha!]

However the blog The Middle Class Handbook has suggestions about how to pitch the Christmas update so as not to offend – and I think I broadly agree with these pointers. Briefly: statements of fact without embellishment, not too much about the offspring, both good and bad in the mix, something funny if possible and, above all, don’t be smug.  I’ll be checking my own carefully next year. 🙂 And I think I’d add to this list:-  send to selected people only – not just one with every card sent out regardless of recipient.

So, did you get any or these round robin Christmas letters? Did you appreciate reading them or not? Do you send one – and why? Let me know your thoughts and feelings –  I love to hear from you!

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6 thoughts on “A bit of a dust-up!

  1. I despise Round Robins–force myself to read them in case something should be replied to (has never happened yet). I find them so sad as always written by the dullest people, I barely know.

    I have never sent one. Even when first husband had died in the preceding year I assumed, correctly, that friends would interpret his name being left off the card. Close friends had already been told of course.

    • Hi Erika,
      Thank you for commenting! I think you have it there with the ‘people, I barely know’. Lack of selectivity in the recipient can be a problem.

      Unless you have already heard them, I hope you clicked on the link to the Lynne Truss letters – you’d really appreciate them!
      best Ann

      • Yes, I loved the link you gave, thank you so much for it. I promptly sent it to my sister also. By the way is your wooden crocodile from the West coast of Africa and is it by any chance a Mancala game? I have such a game, shaped just so, from Nigeria but the playing area is the body, with a lift-off back piece.

        • I’m glad you liked the link, I think Lynne Truss had great fun writing the revenge letters, don’t you?
          My crocodile is actually a nut cracker, cast by my uncle in brass (yes, I know, you can’t tell as it is not kept polished, so easily mistaken for wood in a photo!)
          I know exactly what you are talking about with the wooden game-box of mancala as they have a similar game in Sabah, Borneo (where my daughter-in-law comes from) though the one I have is open and uses shells as counters. I rather like the idea of your closed version though – ornamental as well as interesting game!

  2. I decided one year that no one reads Christmas letters anyway and didn’t send one. Boy, did I hear from people! So now I do. I try to keep them light and amusing and not go into detail about illnesses, surgeries and such. I mostly enjoy getting them in return. Most are from people we’ve known a long time so I know if they’re going to be cheery or descriptions of illnesses in excruciating detail or one-upmanship on how many places they’ve been this year and read them when I’m in the right mood.

    • Hi Helen,
      Thank you for commenting! There you go – you got the proof you needed to carry on – and because you have probably hit the right note ‘light and amusing’ (and I bet you don’t go in for the one-upmanship stuff either)your missives were missed. If all christmas letters were in the same vein one wouldn’t have to pick the right time to read the up-dates received.
      best Ann

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