Sunday, December 02, 2007
Christmas memories, vol. 14
I do not send Christmas cards. It is not because I don't love you, or because I don't wish you a happy holiday...it is solely because I am too lazy to dedicate the hours to it, and too disorganised to have a complete list of your updated addresses ready to make it an easy task.
My parents were religious senders of the Christmas card. They were of the modest note and picture of the kids variety. Sometime in November, Bob and I would be asked to dress in the year's themed clothing and we would spend an afternoon or an evening posing in various places to capture the perfect image to send out to the world. We HATED this. It seemed to take FOREVER. We would put on pained, plastic smiles...which would prolong our agony...and we could never get comfortable in any position because as soon as we did we would have to change the pose for a different shot. Here above is an example of why it took so long.
When I go home, one of the highlights of my first few days is the review of the cards my parents have received. They're in touch with all sorts of people that I only vaguely remember from childhood, and it's always fun to read about what the bratty kid I used to have to play with on bridge night is doing, or read the personal notes from my folks' friends - not unlike the notes I get from my own friends, which somehow makes them seem less like parents and more like people, which is fun.
The highlight of this highlight, though, is the R********* letter, sent from friends of theirs from back in the early 70's. Though my mom has seen this family only 10 times in 20 years, we know them intimately through their Christmas letter, and let me tell you....they are legendary. My mom, my brother and I all dive for it as soon as it or we arrive.
Their letter is a classic in bragging/self-congratulatory hogwash. They have children roughly my age and slightly younger, and if the Christmas letter is to be believed they are Einsteins in Eddie Bauer, leading the world to a perfect market driven economy, curing cancer, solving world hunger and drumming up a little world peace as a hobby. I was a good student, so my parents said, "Mindy continues to do well in school, though she never does any homework so sometimes we wonder why." Their children were on the A honor roll, achieving the top marks on the final exam in senioradvancedplacementgiftedandtalent astrophysics. We went on a family vacation to Colorado, and it was noted that we had a lot of fun and Bob and I didn't fight too much in the car. The R********** went whitewater kayaking on the Snake River, camping on the banks and enjoying a nightly feast of gourmet camping cuisine inspired by Moroccan Berbers. My dad was proud of a bridge he and his team had just completed, and my mom was enjoying her antique store. The R********** had just made their third million as real estate moguls, purchased a Porsche 911 - a little toy that they know they didn't need (but it's so fun to have ;) and are planning to take a cruise around the world, likely uncovering a lost tomb in Egypt along the way.
The poor R********** have suffered endless catty backlash at the hands of my family. It's part of the family tradition. My brother and I started the whole thing, and though my mom told us we weren't being nice she joined right in pretty quickly because it annoyed her just as much as it did us. My sister-in-law even knows what to expect, though she's had more exposure to the dark comedy of Tom's annual missive. The only one to stay above the fray was my dad, who was never one to be petty. Even he would admit he had a snicker in the corner, though, listening to me do interpretive readings of this fine fine letter.
As I've gotten older, I've learned to read between the lines. They're actually new money with tacky taste and messed up priorities. That whitewater camping trip was probably a package holiday that any SOB who can fit his fat ass into a canoe could take with no prior experience. Their boy geniuses are a family physician and a manager at a well known bank's mortgage division in Minneapolis - I think I sold his employer their President's Club trip that was so raved about in a letter a few years ago, and I can tell you exactly where the corners were cut to make it affordable. Which makes the letter even more fun every year...now the game is to translate it into plain English. I promise I will do so here in a few weeks when I get home.
Classic writing like this deserves a wider audience.