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Crafting the Perfect Holiday Letter

I was flipping channels on the radio today and came across the Christmas channel. It's that time of year, again, a time filled with egg nog and cookies and tinsel and stressful shopping and depression, and a general sad nostalgia for a time in your life that is no longer or never was. Yeah! Along with all that fun stuff, it's also a time for holiday cards. Even with facebook, some people still go old school and send a cute card, perhaps with photos of themselves dressed in nice green and red and white sweaters, holding their kids, or their cat, or their dog, or their saxophone, in their lap. You can stick their smiling faces on your fridge or in a little basket on your counter and feel stress that you, too, need to coordinate a photo sesh with your family, wearing matching sweaters and smiles, and your youngest clutching little Fluffy until little Fluffy nearly suffocates in her overly exited, Christmas-spirited hands. The icing on the Christmas card cake, however, is the letter. Aww yes, the lovely Holiday Letter. The letter that you a)don't know what to do with (Do you stick it on the fridge? Put it in the basket? Scan and save? Scrapbook? Toss in the trash?)or b) choose the last option I just mentioned because reading the letter makes you feel about as big as one of Santa's little helpers and filled with about as much holiday joy as the Grinch? For some, the Holiday Letter is the seasonal equivalent of facebook. Reading about someone else's happy, superdee-duper, awesome year makes you feel like crap.

I LOVE writing the holiday letter! You may have even gotten a few from me. I love to write, and overshare, so like facebook and this blog, I relish in drafting the annual letter to friends and family. It's my yearly brag sheet. It's the Marietta Family Resume. Did I mention that I get paid to write, and edit, tons of resumes? It's a no brainer for me, then, this letter, this end-all-be-all, letter that's purpose is to clearly and articulately argue why my family is the best...uh....uhhh....that's purpose is to summarize what my family has done this year, you know, in case you live under a rock and don't read my posts.

I've learned to be a savvy writer, both personally and professionally, and have mastered many ways to phrase things so that they are true, but not...they are true but,well, they are embellished. I love that word. Embellish. Ah, it sounds so fancy and nice, doesn't it? It's like life, with a little tinsel sprinkled on to give it sparkle. So, I'm going to let the cat out of the bag (you know, because that's where Char put him) and walk you through my editorial process. I have two drafts of my holiday letter here for you to read.

Draft 2:

Ho Ho Ho from our House to Yours!

Seasons Greetings, Friends and Family! What a year it has been for the Marietta Family of Fly Creek. The year kicked off with some fun in the snow, sledding, and skating, and drinking hot cocoa while enjoying the joyous winter weekends. Sadly, my grandma passed away, but my parents, brother, and I traveled to Florida to celebrate her memory and rekindle with family we've not seen in many years. As winter rolled gracefully into spring, Andy, once again, traveled to Florida to have some much needed R&R with his friends. Before we knew it, summer was here and I shifted my role from the office to the home. Oh, how I relish those incredibly long summer days, making healthy snacks, organizing educational activities for the girls, and tidying up the house. I also enjoyed many girls' nights out, celebrating the warm summer evenings among dear friends.

The fall has been a race to the winter. Caroline is in second grade and is doing so well. She studies so hard. Charlotte is pure joy. Her precocious smile makes me want to raise a glass to toast the energy and excitement she brings to the house. Both girls are so spirited. It keeps me and Andy on our toes at all times! They are taking ballet lessons now- we are practicing our plies and jetes after dinner each evening. Speaking of which, we always make time to dine as a family. A family that eats together, stays together. And stays off drugs, God bless us, every one.

Professionally, it has been an exciting time as well! Andy continues his work with the non-profit and also stays busy with our apartment rental business. He offers exceptional customer service during each septic back-up and leaf-blocked gutter call he gets. Work has been nothing but exhilerating for me. I'm teaching a class, taking a class, and have assumed new responsibilities in the office. I'd love to hear if any of you have developed a way to add a few extra hours to the day or if you have devised a method to create a copy of yourself to help with all of the multi-tasking!

Well, I must be off. I've got a batch of cookies in the oven for the PTA bakesale and fundraiser for Cats with Cancer. Much love to you all and can't wait to hear about how great (but not as great as ours) your year has been.

Love and Lord Bless, Melissa

The Original Draft:

Ho Ho Ho from our House to Yours!

Seasons Greetings, Friends and Family! What a year it has been for the Marietta Family of Fly Creek. I can't believe it is winter, again! It rained nearly all spring and summer and now it's colder than hell frozen over. I cry just thinking about scraping the car windshield and trying to fit the kids into their car seats with their Michelin Man coats on. We spent many a winter's day watching TV from start to finish, mixed with 10-15 minutes of bundling the girls up to play outside only for one of them to biff it within 2 seconds of going out and the other one insisting I carry her, and her sled, up the hill each time. There's a fine line between winter in UpState and the set of the Shining. Sadly, my grandma passed away and I traveled to Florida, battling something like the ebola virus, to celebrate her memory with family I haven't seen in so long that one of my cousins thought my brother was my husband. Spring couldn't come fast enough, and Andy couldn't get out of the house fast enough to his annual Mancation, where he and his buds soaked up beer and sunshine while I shoveled the driveway and boiled hot water to thaw my frozen car door. Before we knew it, summer was here, or at least that's what the calendar said. I froze my butt off swimming in the lake in 70 degree weather. People made fun of me for wearing my trusty fleece turtleneck to the lake. I see nothing odd about that at all. When not at the lake, I spent my days referreeing fights, feeding bottomless pit bellies, and re-cleaning what I thought I just cleaned but suddenly was dirity again. Oh how I relished the end of those long summer days and my chance to flee the house and drink with my buddies.

The fall has been a race to the winter. Caroline is in second grade. Thank God she made it! She studies so hard and it is so hard for her. Her favorite part of school is recess, lunch and the bus ride home on Fridays. Charlotte is pure evil. She keeps me and Andy on our toes at all times, you have to be when your 3 year old has found out where you have hidden the kitchen knives. I rasie my glass to her, and then drink as fast as I can. Both girls are taking ballet now- we practice our plies and jetes after dinner each evening while rocking out to Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. Speaking of which, we always eat dinner together, and thank heavens the family agreed that I should no longer cook. A family that eats someone else's food other than mine is more likely to live and not get salmonella. God bless us, every one.

Professionally, it has been an exciting time as well! Andy stays busy with the apartment rental business. I wish he'd come running back to our house as fast as he gets to our tennant's homes. We have this weird fart smell in our laundry room whenever we run the dryer and I have been asking him to fix it for months. This semester for me has been like one long day that never ends. I'm taking a class, teaching a class, and have assumed new responsibilities in the office. Please let me know if you have found a way to duplicate yourself. At this point, I am conidering making a giant cardboard cut out of me and hoping that my family and co-workers fall for it long enough for me to escape to the Bermuda Triangle.

Well, I must be off. It's 11:45 pm and I have to run to the 24 hour grocery store and pick up cookies for Caroline's holiday party. A little mom's trick for ya, fyi- take the cookies out of the package, put them on your own plate and there you go! Just like homemade! Much love to you all and I look forward to reading your letter and feeling bad about how the photo I used for our card is the same one from last year.

Love, and God Help Me, Melissa

You see, writing a Good Holiday Letter just takes a little Christmas tinsel. A few embellishments here and there, and it's a sparkly marketing piece sure to convince any of your loved ones that your life is perfect. Or not so perfect. You decide for yourself which draft is the least embellished version and stay tuned for the final version in a mailbox near you real soon.

Love to all and to all a good night! -Melissa


phoeberl said…
ha ha! You are cracking me up! Thanks for sharing :)

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