editing the christmas newsletter

I sometimes imagine a world in which we all have signs over our heads that expose our darker selves–our character flaws, our idiosyncrasies. Not the really big stuff. Just a few of those rough edges we work hard to hide from friends and families and co-workers and tradespersons and random passers-by. I mean, really, wouldn’t we all feel better about ourselves if we knew we weren’t the only ones muddling through life with crushing deficiencies?

I feel the same way about Christmas newsletters. You know, that glimpse into the sender’s “perfect” year? Those to-die-for vacations, accomplished children, enviable jobs, virtuous spouses, Internet-worthy pets, thriving house plants, spotless cars, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It’s the adult thing to applaud such splendid lives, but on some level don’t we all want to reach over and muss up that perfect hair on those perfect heads?

Several years ago I bucked the trend with an–ahem–honest Christmas newsletter. Now, I have to admit, I went a wee bit far, and maybe when you’re angry, a jog or glass bottle of wine is better therapy than committing your innermost thoughts to paper, printing dozens of copies, and sending them far and wide to every well-known and lesser-known entry in your address book. Sort of the equivalent of inebriated calls to that ex after midnight. Always a no.

In my now infamous newsletter I shared a few, shall we call them, frustrations from the previous year–lots of family stuff, but the job probably took a hit, too. Even now I’m mortified revisiting the whole thing. I deserved a permanent blockade placed between me and all means of written communication as well as a lifetime ban from the post office. But alas, I lived to write more newsletters, never with such drama, but always with raw honesty.

My worst example aside, I beseech newsletter writers across the world to unite. You don’t have to fess up to financial woes or infidelities or addictions. Just pull back the curtain a little. It’s not easy, but also, it’s not hard. And we’ll be there for you. Especially when we see the “real” you is like the real us. OK, maybe a little better, but mostly just like us.

Merry Christmas, Dear Readers.

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