Saturday, December 27, 2008

Snark Fest: The Christmas Newsletter

I’m hoping not to ruffle the wrong feathers, but I just can’t get this post to stop trying to write itself in my head. So, better here than there I say.

Plus, since New Years is around the corner. I’ll be making some moves towards continued positiviality. (Just wait, that will be a new word someday). Might as well get snarky, mean, negative, judgmental thoughts out now before the regimens of healthy living get a revival treatment.

Anywhos, we get Christmas newsletters from family and friends and we love catching up on what is going on with those we don’t see often, or have lost track of somewhat. One of the newsletters we receive gets a special kind of attention from my daughter and me. It’s like, “OMG. THE Braggerbooter’s letter came in!! Break out the tea kettle and let’s have a sit.” My husband gets REALLY PISSED OFF at us. He thinks that my daughter and I are being horribly catty and bitchy and not at all Christmas like.

Ah. Well. Here’s some bitchiness thinly veiled as advice.

  1. Keep to the highlights. Four pages, single spaced, eleven point font is getting close to becoming a periodical.

  2. Unless you want other people’s kids to not like your kids, have a little balance in the bragging arena. For instance, each kid’s paragraph should probably not be ¾ of a page long. Try to make your kids a little bit human.

  3. When listing the athletic accomplishments of your oldest child, even if HE IS an eventual Heisman trophy sure bet, maybe don’t mention every single award. Pick your favorite five.

  4. If your son is so athletically competent that he can play any baseball position well, that might be enough information right there. You probably don’t need to go on and say how he usually is put in as pitcher, 1st baseman, or short stop. And then detail the highlights in each.

  5. Just say you are proud of how well your son is doing academically while balancing it with all those athletics. Don’t give his GPA for every quarter.

  6. Your son may be the most popular boy in his senior class and the phone may be ringing off the wall with girls calling him. It’s just not that cool for a mom to make it a part of the holiday letter.
  7. When introducing your daughter’s paragraph, maybe a more humble beginning than “Son may be a hard act to follow, what with so many accomplishments, but daughter rises to this challenge and even surpasses her brother with her own accomplishments."

  8. You may not want to call your daughter a “typical teen” and then detail that she: Is the most popular girl in her class; played two sports and was voted MVP for both; detail a list of awards athletically and academically, describing the honor and importance of each award; say how amazed you are that she is an excellent dancer in jazz, hip-hop, AND ballet and finish this off by saying she is so talented that at her ballet performance they “saved her for the closing number.”
  9. Hands down, my all time favorite in your daughter’s paragraph was when you equated your daughter’s “stunning and sophisticated beauty” with a popular young celebrity. It got even better when you proved your point with the anecdotal story of the family vacation to Disneyland and how preteens were asking for your daughter’s autograph (thinking she was the celeb). It was a little over the top when you finished this part with, “it was a fun preview of her future and what it’s like to be rich and famous.”

I could say more, like perhaps you need not detail your home renovations with the exact colors and types of hardwood flooring and granite countertops. But, my snark meter is having a fit and so I should end this fun.

A couple ideas to improve on the ol’ newsletter.

One. Funny works. Add a little humor. For online models, I’d like to point out Vodka Mom or Anna Lefler. See. One can still be poignant and show the love while cracking people up.

Two. Be gracious. Balance out what might come off as bragging with a little humility thrown in.

One last thing though. When you write that paragraph about your vacation home to Hawaii. Detailing all the fun you had. And isn’t it fortunate that you got to come for three weeks? How the highlight was spending time with family and friends who are so dear… Maybe you might word it in a way so those of us that you did not call while you were here don’t go “Err?”

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m probably going to hell for this.

Mrreowwwwwwwwww.

37 comments:

Kathy said...

Love it - and I don't think your snarky or bitchy - just realistic. I would grab a cuppa for a newsletter like that, too. :)

Vodka Mom said...

love it. And why CAN'T we be bitchy??? WHY???

derfina said...

ROFL-I couldn't watch it all the way through with the volume up because it got my birds swooping and flapping around the room with every HISS. Oh, and just the right touch of snark! *wink*

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Kathy - we save them from year to year too. ; - )

VM - you are right. for some reason I am more comfortable with my inner bitch in the flesh than in the virtual world.

derfina - i am intrigued by the birds on the boat. I went ahead and switched to the video that was funnier, but the snarling one is really intense. I could see how birds would be upset.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

Briefcase's sister is EXACTLY like this. Except, she doesn't save it just for the Christmas newsletter. No, we get emails throughout the year. Brag-mails as we call them. And snarky? We forward them around for a good laugh with added in, edited comments. (You might say we add the reality into the emails!) At least we get a good laugh out of it!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

OMG and LOL 24. I love you. I don't feel so guilty for postng this now.

Kate Lord Brown said...

Hehehe - no, not snarky, this is just the flipside of Christmas :) Round-robin newsletters are still not common in the UK unfortunately as I love them for their unintentional humour (or poignancy - a lot I received this year spoke bravely of breakdowns, divorce, political fights ...) 24 reminded me of a girlfriend who accidentally 'sent to all' last Xmas an erotic story another writer friend had sent to her for feedback. Apparently her husband's boss thought it was an 'alternative' newsletter...

Eudea-Mamia said...

I wonder how many Christmas Cards she gets in return.

Me thinks not too many.

Ack.

All I kept thinking was "those poor kids" - can you imagine actually LIVING with a woman like that?

Darlings, don't rumple the plastic covers on the couch...

Just B said...

No f***ing way!!! (I save that word for very special occasions)

I loved "Pick your favorite five."

Snarky well deserved in this case. Husbands just don't get the wonderful world of Snark!

Queen Bee said...

I LOVE IT! I'm always getting into some sort of trouble for what I say or do, but we can't help how we feel.

Casey said...

Oh I hate the braggy holiday letters. We have a cousin who sends them out in that much detail and it's so annoying. Then she puts one teeny tiny sentence in there basically stating that he husband's first kid is still alive. I would make fun of it too, it's half the fun of the holiday season... seeing who sends out the ugliest baby card and the most annoying holiday newsletter.

starsimplified said...

Just discovered your blog via Best Posts of the Week. Loved this post! You shouldn't feel bad - isn't that why we have blogs, so we can "talk back" to people rather than saying it out loud? Mine is used for venting a lot! Look at it this way - you got your feelings off your chest without hurting the newsletter writer's feelings. Actually, you did a good thing!

Super Nova said...

good advice, all my friends are young moms, so I get about 10 christmas cards talking about potty training, it's golden times.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

kate - I love stories of emails gone rogue. Erotica even better.

EM - I haven't seen the kids in a long time. I hope they are not too full of themselves.

just b- I am pleased as punch if I was able to bring forth a special word from you.

Casey - ugliest baby card ; -) that's too funny.

star and supernova - welcome! thanks for stopping by and oh my, people put in potty training now? I think I missed that.

Super Nova said...

by the way, it's me, D'Arcy, I just changed my name for the new year....I felt like I wanted something a bit more powerful! Yeee haawwww!!!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

oh d'arcy!!! yea, you're back..We missed you. Hope your creative juices got a nice break.

Braja said...

That's not bitchy at all. And that last paragraph about the future of the rich and famous? Jesus Mary Joseph, what is in their WATER?? If I had relatives like that I'd be more than catty: I'd be suicidal and murderous all at once...

Maybe I'm overreacting :)

Braja said...

btw i was on your post when your comment came in. that happens a lot...isn't it cool?

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Braja - not a relative,thank the lord,but the husband, who only appears in the letter as a breadearner, is a friend from before he got married. I think we are just intheir address book at this point. And yeah, i think that's cool too. The virtual world where you are in India reading my post, while I'm over here in Hawaii reading your post and are internet connections are whirring by each other somewhere over the internet. Yours was the last post I read before I went to bed last night.

Braja said...

You won't believe it, but yours is the last post I'm reading before going to bed...seriously :) G'nite :)

Ann's Rants said...

Okay, I agree on the comedy icons you linked. Read between the lines: when not in scheduled activities we have absolutly nothing to say to one another, you'd be amazed what a family can achieve with crack cocaine, and our therapist recommended more quality time so we're building a McMansion in Hawaii...Thanks so much for the kind words on my blog!

Joanie said...

I couldn't have said it better myself! Bravo!

Joanie said...

On thinking about the braggy newsletters, I'm afraid I might be a little guilty of this myself (but really... what momm doesn't brag a little about their kids?) I do, at times, send an email when one of mine gets a good part in a school play or is accepted to the college of his or her choice.But I think I try to keep it simple... at least I hope I do!

only a movie said...

Excellent snark... We grew up looking forward to the yearly christmas letter from one relative's family.

We always composed an anti-christmas letter that highlighted all of our under-achievements... wicked fun.

:-)

Anna Lefler said...

Woot! Thanks for the shout-out - I'm so glad you liked the letter!

Embrace the snark - YES.

And - I have just realized to my chagrin that I am remiss in not having added you to my blog roll already. A lame oversight that I am on my way to correct this instant!

Snarky - I mean HAPPY New Year!

XO

Anna

thistle said...

it seems like we all get one of these doesn't it...ours was a relative back east which altho we love them dearly, as the years wore on we started to feel a little less enamoured of the letters...seriously...perfection is sometimes so hard to abide ;)

although i have to say, the letter you receive is epic...entertainment value alone is worth the price of the stamp. And i love Movie's anti-brag idea, perhaps you should compose one next year and send it back just for fun...

Liz said...

It sounds like the Braggerbooters need a blog - then they could brag to their booter's content, every single day if they wanted.

What drives me batty in holiday cards is the people who send one of those photo cards - no personal note, not even a signature! I get one every year from a cousin and his wife with a picture of just their three dogs (they're not in the picture at all).

Tabitha Blue said...

Wow, that would be a read!!! That's why I don't send them.... I'd just have to much to brag about... LOL ;)

I'd be mad too, if I didn't get a call about Hawaii!!!!

:)
~Tabitha~

freshmommyblog.com

The Blonde Duck said...

Did they seriously say the rich and famous part? Oh my God. Get a life and some class, folks! My parents get a couple letters like that and I just thought those people were crazy...there's more out there! God save us all!

Mama Dawg said...

Ummmm....it totally deserves all the snark you can throw at it.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Ann - I like the way you read bewteen the lines...

Joanie - hey, go easy on yourself. There's a big difference between bragging to a few ppeople highlights as they come and a four page Christmas bragfest.

movie - your family sounds like so much fun. Daughter and I somewhat ad lib our family's underachievement, mis-steps, and quarrles as we are reading the letter.

anna - well, thank-you!

thistle - yes,the entertainment value alone is worth it all, even the irritation at the perfectionism. I wanted to do a fun letter, but husband is weird about it.

tabitha - you're right. tha's the part of the letter that i find the most irritating.

blondie- yes yes and yes. I haven't seen these people years, but wonder if it's like this in person.

mama - i actually think so too, I could have been a lot more catty.

essee said...

ooh - I'd love to read it in its entirety. There is a book out that is a compilation of bad "year in review" Christmas letters, I've often thought of buying it for laughs.

Kristan said...

You know, maybe it's because a lot of our family friends are Asian -- or maybe because they're lazy? -- but we never got holiday newsletters. When Andy first told me about them, I felt gypped! Apparently he and his mother and father also receive one in particular every year that just SCREAMS "snark me!"

Thanks for sharing! Some people are unbelievable... :P

Beth said...

This may top the letter that we get from one of our friends detailing month by month each illness and bad event. It is hilarious!

And your husband is wrong. Your snarkiness is really just the truth.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I love it that you wrote this post. I feel the exact same way. Meeeowww.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

Oh and there's a lot to be said for mother/daughter bonding even if it's a little devilish. *wink*

crone51 said...

hehe... We used to make up anti -xmas letters- they would start by saying things like " Great news!! Junior only got arrested five times this year and our sweet 16 year old daughter has just completed her second go round at rehab....etc". Stuff like that.