Monday, September 12, 2011

Christmas Newsletters - Trash or Treasure?

As we will be overseas before Christmas I am thinking of what I can do so that when I return, on December 23rd, I will be prepared for the Yuletide festivities. I write an annual Christmas letter (never more than one A4 page) so I can make a start on that. Elderly aunts and old neighbours tell me that they enjoy reading it each year

I just spotted this post in an online forum "Does anybody get those annoying Christmas letters EVERY YEAR EVERY DETAIL of the families history???...I dont even read them anymore I just trash them."


Trash them? As the writer unwittingly said they contain details of a family's history.They are precious resources for future generations Sure people brag about how clever their kids are but they also convey news of hatches, matches and dispatches and other family milestones. There is no way I would trash these epistles that give a potted (but often skewed towards the positive) history of a family's events during that year.


For those newsletters that come from  family I record the details of births, deaths and marriages that I glean from them in my genealogy database. I then file them in my family history files in the author's file. I have  over ten years of newsletters from one cousin's family that when read sequentially tell a beautiful story, warts and all. She is not into genealogy but one day her descendants may be; there may be nowhere else that this story is recorded for these youngsters. I am pleased that I can curate this collection for the future.

Do you send out a Christmas letter? Do you enjoy reading them? Are they trash or treasure?

9 comments:

Helen V Smith said...

Treasure, definitely Treasure!

I cherish the ones I receive from friends and the few family I have left. In today's busy times it is a great way of hearing what people have been doing. Sure it is usually the good stuff but really there is normally so much more good stuff that happens than bad that I am happy to hear it. Hopefully I am close enough to these people that if bad stuff is occurring I have already been told as they would know that I'd be there to help.

I look on these newsletters as away of celebrating the year that has been with my friends and family.

cassmob said...

Definitely treasure not trash, even the ones that are a bit OTT. I really feel disappointed when I get just a card with no note whatsoever wishing me a happy Xmas. My feeling is "why bother" as it tells me next to nothing. I admit to being a bit casual in recent years and will often ring people for a decent long distance call rather than send a card. That way I figure we've shared the news in a more intimate and comprehensive way. BUT it doesn't address the archive aspect of the circular newsletter-I admit that as well as keeping the ones from others I also keep a copy of my own as an aide memoir of what happened when.

Joan Miller (Luxegen) said...

I enjoy reading others Christmas letters but haven't done one for ages, at least not one that is snail mailed.
I do try to do a mini letter via email or a phone call to old friends that we don't see often.

I treasure the letters I do get and never throw them out. They go in my correspondence folder for that year.

FrustratedSue said...

I don't write easily, so I don't send one, but I TREASURE the ones I get and save them. But you gave me a heads up — I hadn't thought of the genealogical aspect of these. I will round them up and file the properly ASAP!

I have often seen negative comments such as the one you mentioned. Such people have no sense of history. And that is THEIR problem.

Maggie said...

Treasure! At least, I hope that's what family and friends think of ours. It used to be more of a 'standard letter' with the odd photo in it. Now, however, my talented hubby puts together a comic-strip style sheet full of photos of our year, with short, pithy comments for each. Seems to go down well with everyone! We keep a copy or three for our records, and enjoy looking back at previous years.

Judy Webster said...

Treasure! Each Christmas I write a one-page letter about what's been happening in my life. I usually incorporate a photo or two (and I've just noticed that the photo is often of our dog's antics rather than our human family!) I keep copies of my letters in PDF format. I love receiving that sort of Christmas letter from family and friends, and I still have most of them. You have reminded me that I need to scan those that are deteriorating on paper!

Geniaus said...

Thanks for all the comments. I guess that, as members of the genealogy community, we are biased.

We must let our non genie friends know how useful these documents are.

Taco Goulooze said...

I was completely unaware of this Christmas tradition until I married my american wife. But then again, I'm from a country (Netherlands) that is among the most densely populated countries in the world. I can practically stick my head out of the window to see what my first cousin twice removed is up to. I don't need that kind of update. Also, I follow most of my relatives on Twitter. I know more about my cousin's children then she does!

Jasia said...

I love receiving Christmas newsletters! I definitely treasure them. I have sent out Christmas newsletters for many years now but I almost called it quits once. One year, shortly after I sent out out my Christmas cards with the newsletter enclosed, I received an anonymously sent envelope in the mail with a Dear Abby article in it. In the article Abby bashed people for sending out Christmas newsletters with details and stories nobody cares about. She basically said, "people you need to realize this just comes across as bragging". I was crushed. I never learned who sent he article to me but I have my suspicions. I would have ended my newsletter writing at that point but my best friend strongly urged me not to. I thought about it several times over the next year and in the end I decided to go ahead with my newsletters. I know there is someone on my Christmas card list that's not happy about that but I'm doing it anyway.
Jasia

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