Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Form Letters

There are many things that we all find annoying: people sharing their cell phones with others, undisciplined children in stores, bad drivers…the list continues. But with the approach of the holidays, nothing annoys me personally as much as opening a Christmas card from an old friend to find a "form" letter.

You must be familiar with this type of letter. These are often printed on holiday stationery in an effort to look personal. But they are addressed to "Dear Friend" or "Holiday Greetings to All." I find such letters laughable and usually make humorous comments about the senders. So if you send me a letter, save yourself some time and trouble. Just mail the card.

People must be so busy that they apparently compile the contents over time to reduce holiday stress. The result is a vivid description of EVERY annoying problem they experienced throughout the year, 99% of which is of no importance. These ditties include such items as dental work, bank overdrafts or inopportune flat tires, things most of us encounter but forget immediately. No doubt these letters writers are thrilled when such events occur, noting them down for inclusion in the "annual report" to friends and family.

Many letters are actually hilarious. One family always refers to itself in the third person: "John and Susan had a great time at the beach this summer." It makes one wonder who typed the letter.

Last year, one author opened with rather trivial matters ("Our dog got out and was gone for several days)" then added several pages later -- almost as an afterthought -- that the husband's brother has a terminal illness. Come on folks. Read them over first.

The number of these letters seems to be increasing. I would estimate 75% of my cards has such an enclosure. It would serve the writers to at least personalize the contents somewhat. I have also been known to type letters because it takes less time. But I include the person's NAME and to omit the humdrum which is of little interest.

If you are in the habit of sending form letters, try to hit the highlights of the year and even include a question about the recipient: "How are you guys getting along in your new home?" "How are things in [insert city name here]?"

That way the recipient will think that you actually do care.

Happy Holidays.

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