Christmas Letter Writing: A Right and Wrong Way?

BEWARE: Read at your own risk.  Not for the literal-minded or humorless, or for those lacking the crazy-gene. 

The purpose for Christmas letters means different things to different folks.   Most serve to apprise everyone about the writer’s and his/her family’s life to-date.  Many want to read about such things, I imagine, but there’s a line that's easily crossed.  No doubt the intentions are good, but inadvertently some folks create a written work that can lull one to sleep or, more positively, risk the need for strong alcoholic drink to bear the experience.  Certainly, my writing hasn’t been immune to this phenomenon.  This got me thinking: is there a right and wrong way to write a Christmas letter?  Indeed, when I’ve perused my past Christmas letters, I embarrassingly admit some contain boastful passages that, in retrospect, rouse a good bit of nausea.  I imagine the eye-rolling leading to sarcasm from readers, serving as fodder for witty jokes at my expense.  Too much bragging, expressing the sentiment, “Look how my life is so grand!” is probably the wrong approach.  My apologies for past transgressions.  As such, my Christmas letter-writing has evolved over the years, hopefully for the better. 

I’m convinced the main purpose for Xmas letters is to entertain.  This justifies the expense of paper and ink and postage stamps.  My personal caveat: be unconventional, add touches of absurdity and weirdness, and dare to be your unapologetic odd self.  It takes a bit more time and large amounts of imagination, but once you’re fully immersed in the process, it’s great fun!  That in itself is the best reason for writing these things in the first place.  And when you enjoy what you’re doing, the final product is always much better than originally planned.

Following is this year’s Christmas card and letter.  It includes the obligatory embarrassing family photo and is written from the perspective of our two dogs--one alive, one dead (I warned about the craziness).  I hope it strikes the right chord, stimulates your mind a little differently and removes you from the routine cares of ordinary life, if only for a minute.

Front side of card (tri-fold pamphlet)

* * * * * * * Letter (reverse side)* * * * * * * 

A Christmas Cloning


Extra! Extra!  Read All About It!  Fongs pay tens of thousands of $$$ to Clone Dog!

Sammy:  If you haven’t heard from last year’s Xmas letter, I’m dead.  Guess what?  I’m still dead.  I’m still around though not in earthly form.  Bear witness to this.  Errata: I wasn’t cloned.  Sorry, bad joke, if you haven’t figured out that yet.  The floofer next to me is the newest family member, Benjamin Franklin Fong (BFF).  We call him Benji for short.  Say hi, Benji.

Benji:  Hi.  Hey, where are you and who are you?  I can hear you but can’t see you.

S:  I’m Sammy.  I’m up here.  Didn’t those people down there tell you about me?

B:  Oh yeah.  Your pictures are all over the place.  They still talk about you, kept me wondering. 

S:  Obviously I’m not around in physical form, so you need to tell the story this year.  It’s a tradition for this family, and since I’m gone, you’re it.

B:  What’s a “tra-de-shun” and how come I gots to do this?  I’m only 5 months old!

S:  Use proper grammar, no slop.  Don’t be an animal.  Just do your best and tell everyone what you’ve seen so far.  Start with the girl.  The younger girl, Lauren, who just came home from Gonzaga.

B:  Oh yeah, I like her.  She’s fun but keeps dressing me up in stuff, ties my hair so it sticks straight up and makes me do weirdo poses and takes pictures.  She scares me at times.

S:  She’s in the last year of nursing school, been working in hospitals and clinics.  Her favorites are old people and neonates.  Even worked with Dad on some long surgical cases.

B:  Whatever.  Remember, I’m still a pup.  Don’t use big words.

S:  Anyway, she graduates this spring and wants to work in the Pacific Northwest somewhere, so she won’t be too far from home.  Now tell the folks about Nick.

B:  The tall guy who runs?

S:  Yeah that’s him.  Tell them he works in Seattle at a place called Radiant, doing tech stuff that no one understands.

B:  That’s over my head, and the hair on it is still sticking up.  Darn rubber things.

S:  They’re rubber bands.  Believe me, I know what you’re going through.  Anyway, I’ll help you out since I’m all-knowing up here.  Nick’s putting those math and physics degrees to good use there, where they make techie stuff for other techie people.

B:  OK, if you say so.  I like him, he doesn’t pin my hair up or wrap me in funny clothes like the girl.  Hey, what about the other girl?

S:  You mean Mom?

B:  Yeah.  She’s great ‘cause she feeds me and takes me out for PPE*

S:  Want a bit of fun?  Hide under the table when she wants to take you for a walk.  I rolled around in laughter watching her crawl under the table to fetch me.  And hang around her feet while she cooks all that great food.  She might drop something. The kitchen is her lab and she experiments all the time.  One day you might get some really good food.

B:  You mean there’s more to life than dry kibbles? 

S:  Oh yeah.  BTW** slow down when you eat.  You’re emptying your bowl in 20 seconds flat.

B:  Can’t help it.  I get so hungry.

S:  As for food, be really sneaky and work on the family’s weak link.  They call him Dad.

B:  Oh yeah, the guy who runs barefoot.  What’s with that?  I thought only dogs do that.

S:  He acts like a dog, even thinks like one.  He’s delusional.  Before you were born, he ran a ½ marathon, 13.1 miles in bare feet, on a windy, butt-freezing February day.

B:  Wow, that’s crazy. Hey, we’re running out of space on this paper.

S:  That’s our cue to stop.  What do you say, pup?  Let’s wish everyone happiness together.

S & B:  Merry Xmas all and have a Wonderful (COVID- and riot-free) New Year!


Benji and the Late Sammy Fong

for Randy, Nancy, Nicholas & Lauren

                                                                                           Footnotes:  * PPE = Poop and Pee Excursions 

**BTW = “Benji The Woofer” or “by the way”

©Randall S. Fong, M.D.

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