Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Christmas Newsletter

Do you send out a newsletter with your christmas card to friends and family? We have a couple of times but we dropped it as it seemed to give a rather false impression of our modest lives. It rather sounded like we were bragging about our lives. I save that for my blog. I don't care for it all in real life.

Mother forwarded to me two newsletters she had received with christmas cards. One was from a cousin and Mother had annointed, no, that is not the right word, annoted? Anatoned. Still not right, but you know what I mean. Yes, comments scrawled in the margins. Ok, the cousin's children are absolutely high achievers and  extremely successful, thankfully none are property developers, but more academic types.

Ah yes, the cousin has travelled the world in the last year, first class of course. The actual cousin, her husband's mother died a couple of weeks ago.

At 93, she is the last of my mother's aunts and uncles to die. She was the baby of thirteen children and married well and was very comfortably off. In a teetotal non gambling family, she was a rebel, and stayed up late playing cards while smoking and drinking. Yet once she married, she became very proper, albeit quite controlling. I think it is fair to say she bullied my grandmother, her sister. It was probably never said but it could have been, 'Moo, how did you let your daughter marry a someone who does not go to church, drinks beer and is only a builder?' What was said was 'Moo, your place is looking shabby. You really ought to spend some money and brighten it up'. 'Bertie, you really should give Moo some money to get some new clothes. She was wearing that coat the last time we called'. 'Moo, I much prefer sugar lumps for my tea. Is that so hard?' 'Bertie, please guide our Studebaker reversing out into North Road. We don't want a scrape from the gatepost like you did to your Zephre'.

Auntie Marj used to take my Mother to the pictures and Mother remembers her quite favourably, in spite of Auntie Marj grabbing stuff from my late grandmother's house that she thought should have been hers.

Another cousin phoned Mother to tell her about the death of Auntie Marj and offered to pick up Mother and take her to the funeral. Mother said to them that she did not feel well enough to go to the funeral. I told Mother she should. Mother took what I said on board, but it ended up being a killer hot day, so Mother did not go. It is perhaps the first significant funeral Mother has missed, but I don't blame her. She is 78 and her first and second husbands have died. Her best friend died. Her best friend's husband has died. All her older rels have died. As hard work as Mother can be for us children at times, her grand children show her the utmost respect and kindness. I am not sure about the impression I have given you of my mother over many posts, but should you meet her in a casual manner, you would like her.

The second newsletter. Mother asked if I could print them and send them to Sister. Mother in an accompanying letter questioned whether these looked like brag letters. I gave it some consideration, an I agree with her. They were bragging.

The second newsletter was from her bridesmaid, who married a C of E minister who went on to be an Archbishop in the north of Australia. Funnily, I once mentioned him to our ex NT policeman and politician friend, and he knew him.

'I knew him. Couldn't stand the prick', was the reply. 'Err, you don't need to think about that then?' Political differences, I suspect.

I suppose you can write a christmas newsletter without it sounding boastful, but I think it is quite difficult.

21 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Victor, annotated is noted.

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  2. The real details of family histories are inevitably lost as our grandparents and then parents age and forget. You can get addresses, birth, marriage and death dates from census data, but you cannot get who liked whom, why they went into various careers, who lived in the bungalow out the back etc from censuses.

    My dad was adopted by his mother's sister when he was 17. I would love to know what was going on between the two sisters.

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    1. While people's privacy is important, it is sometimes frustrating that more recent info is not readily available. It's hard to untangle or corroboree [that's for you Andrew] family stories and, as you observe Hels, as people age their memories are sometimes less clear or stories become more conflicting.

      On the other hand, sometimes the info in public records can be quite revealing!
      A few years ago I was able to download my father's entire army records without even identifying myself. It was fascinating and filled in a lot of gaps, but I should never have had access to it.

      It helps if antecedents were obsessive about keeping copies of letters, contracts or wills.

      Adopted at 17? Very intriguing.

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    2. Hels, I should have thought of that. Such thinks as christmas newsletters do give more information that you would ever be able to easily find out. My immediate thought is that your dad's mother was not married when you dad was born. Interesting, isn't it.

      FC, my father did nasho service at Pucka. He is owed a medal, but only my step mother, as beneficiary of his will, is allowed to apply for it. Things must be tighter

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  3. Some years we send letters and some years we're totally slack about even sending cards. The Other is incredibly loyal and good at nurturuing friendships, some of which are now more than 60 years old, so the cards keep coming in even when they don't keep going out. We each write separate letters.

    Some letters we receive might appear to be bragging, but I suspect they only contain the sort of stuff people would say face to face anyway. [Or endless details of someone's children we've never met]. This is why I am selective about who I tell what - with PCs and printers there is little excuse for not modifying a standard letter to match the addressee's interests and personality.

    Blogging is not quite the same as a letter for me, I would never whinge or discuss politics with relos, just try to include amusing anecdotes, or keep people up to speed with the hatch match and dispatch stuff.

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    1. FC, quite so about modifying. Mother would like something a bit more personal, rather than each child's resume and the author's travel itinerary.

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  4. I sent a Christmas letter one year instead of cards, I planned on doing it every year. All I wrote was the good things that had happened, but when I tried to write the next one a year later, I felt I couldn't. It just seemed like I was bragging. anyway, I went back to cards, then switched to email, now I only send cards to a couple of people who don't have computers.

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  5. Very interesting River. Clearly I am not the only one who wonders about the christmas newsletter. We have a rule, sometimes breached, but essentially, if we received a card from you last year, you will get one next year.

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  6. I tried it too - but gave up for lack of reciprocation! Clearly, hearing about what I'd been up to was not a trigger for most to update me about their year!! Call it sour grapes if you like. Now the good bits are on my blog, and those who care can read them there if they wish.

    As for bragging, it often sounds like it, but consider the alternative - do you really want to know all the ordinary DULL bits that people have done during the year???

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  7. Red, another reason why I think some christmas newsletters are brag. They are not meant to be reciprocal. Of course no one wants to hear of the boring, but it is about the way things are put, I guess the skill of the writer who can inform, without it sounding like bragging.

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  8. Andrew you know I'm sure that I liked your Mum from the very moment I started reading your blog, whatever you wrote. I suffer from 'mother envy' I so wish my mum was still with us, treasure her while you have her no matter how annoying she is!
    p.s. I haven't sent anyone a Christmas card for about seven years now, never mind a letter..the annoying thing is that everyone still sends me one, Aimee always says 'mum you're the only person I know who curses when they receive a Xmas card' haha!

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    1. Yes Grace, I know I will miss her muchly when she is gone. Sometimes though, I think she will outlive me.

      As for cards, I do like consistency.

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  9. Andrew, I wrote you a nice little piece, hit the wrong button and lost the lot. I hate that! Re; the Christmas Letter, Mr Bliss and I hate them, as most are about people we don't know and events we weren't invited to.... and just plain boring.

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    1. Sorry Bliss. It is horrid when that happens. It can never be rewritten as well, if you have the energy. I guess what I was thinking was as you both do.

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  10. No way I would send out a newsletter, I can barely remember last week, let alone the whole of the year. Ha ha ha. Last years would have been boring anyway - hospital hospital yaaawn.

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    1. Fen, most seem to focus on kids and holidays. I guess, unlike mine, you family know of your blog.

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    2. Yes, some of my family do that's for sure. Most of them don't, or aren't bothered much with the internets!

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  11. I probably agree with you. Those Christmas cards usually sounds like bragging. Or at least a bit narcissistic.

    I think it would be fun to send out a letter with very mundane stuff. That might be entertaining.

    I hope you had a nice Christmas and New Years!

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  12. It was all ok Dina. I was just thinking of you a few moments ago. 'On July the 29th we bought a lettuce from an organic shop. The lettuce leaves had a brown tinge on them. We returned them. August the third, could not sleep. Popped a tab and all was good'.

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  13. That would be the best Christmas letter.

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Whenever I wish I was young again, I am sobered by memories of algebra.