All Happy Family Christmas Letters Are Alike

December 9, 2012
Posted by Jay Livingston

A Facebook friend asked about the origins of the Christmas letter – you know, those cheerful year-end summaries that seem to have been written by some omniscient third person telling you about everyone in the family.  Her question made me wonder about other aspects of this custom, not just when it arose.  Where did it start (socially more than geographically)?  What  has been the pattern of diffusion?  What are the demographics? 

I imagine that soon Hallmark will be selling a convenient standard-form version where all you have to do is fill in a few blanks, sort of like Mad Libs. 

In case you are unfamiliar with the genre, here is one I got recently.
It seems like only yesterday that we were mailing out last year’s Christmas letter, but here we are a year later, once again sharing with our friends what the Loman family has been up to.

Willy had the car fixed, and it’s running just fine. Truth be told, Linda would prefer him to work closer to home, but you can’t keep a salesman off the road. We’re glad to be all together at home for the holidays, even if Christmas here in Brooklyn is different from what it is where most of you are. I long to hear those traditional carols. Hap jokes that the song he hears most in the yule season here is “We’re doing our Christmas shopping at Robert Hall this year.” Hap and Biff – they do bring such joy to our world. 

We’re looking forward to the new year to bring us some new developments. America is the land of opportunity, and the Loman men are looking to make the most of it. Willy, ever the dreamer, has some really promising ideas, and his boss Howard is taking a keen interest. Willy might even give Bernard (our neighbor Charley’s boy) a break and bring him in to take care of some of the legal details. 

Biff has big plans too, and he has the patience to wait for the right person to open the door. Modest Biff doesn’t want us to say so, but being a star athlete and good-looking doesn’t hurt either when you’re trying to lure the venture capitalists. 

We also stop and remember those who are no longer with us to celebrate the holiday. We can never forget Willy’s brother, Uncle Ben, who walked into the jungle at seventeen, and when he walked out, by God he had rice. (We still quote Uncle Ben’s words of wisdom – with great rice comes great responsibility. )

But we also remember the good times. I think I heard the boys chuckling again about the time Biff went to Boston as a surprise to Willy who was there on a sales trip and had no idea Biff was coming. Oh, those pranksters. They’re just irrepressible. 

We hope all is well with our friends in this special season. We’re glad that the Christmas holiday gives us a moment away from the everyday busy-ness and allows us to think about the important areas of life where attention must be paid.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

The Lomans

Coming Soon
  • Season’s Greetings from Jason, Medea, and the Boys
  • The Portnoy Family Holiday Letter
  • The Gambino Family Christmas Offering (You Can’t Refuse)
  • and others

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