The Translation of the Holiday Letter

If you are a fan of Seinfeld, you will remember the episode where Elaine keeps promoting the fatigue-wearing Eddie from the mail room.  Eddie’s ideas for the Peterman catalog were a little…intense.  Elaine would  take Eddie’s violent war images and wordsmith them to come up with a suitable ad for the catalog.

Watch for yourself

I have a feeling that something similar to this exchange happens in homes all around during the creation of the infamous holiday letter.

I love and hate those letters.

Honestly, I always read them and enjoy hearing what is going on in the lives of family and friends.  I just can’t help but wonder, what is really between the lines.

I attempted to write my own yearly update.  It was hard.  I had to be both Eddie and Elaine.

It went something like this:

“We are too incredibly tired from school and work to go anywhere on the weekends” was changed to “weekends are usually filled with family time at home.”

“Daily homework, video games, and complaining about school and chores” was transformed to “he is busy with his activities and interests.”

“We are going broke from buying new pants and shoes”  became “he is a tall boy!  Growing like a weed!”

“He is taunted by another student repeatedly and then hauled into the principal’s office when he reacts.  Their focus on compliance and staying within the box instead of creative thinking and appreciating his gifts…”  I chose to change that to “He’s in third grade.”

“He wants a tremendous amount of attention.  He wants us to watch him play video games.  He wants to talk nonstop about MineCraft and other games.  He pushes back at our attempts for more personal responsibility and being resilient.  He uses the words ‘not fair’ more than two dozen times a day….”  All of this was deleted and replaced with “He keeps us on our toes!”

If you look at my extreme editing, you can see that it would have been a very short letter.

The fact of the matter is that I already share. I probably share too much all year-long.  When I realized this, I crumpled up that holly-covered stationary and went to Starbucks for a  latte instead.

If you are a holiday letter writer and can find a way to tweak your year into a glowing Norman Rockwell report, more power to you.  I can’t.

Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t have wonderful days and hours and minutes.  We do, but our celebrations (not getting suspended, only a few tears this morning, just four ‘not fairs’) are not always letter worthy.

On that note, I wanted to leave you with some more Eddie and Elaine words

Happy Holidays!

10 thoughts on “The Translation of the Holiday Letter

  1. “gave up and went to Starbucks instead” – what a great idea! I don’t do the holiday letter anymore – I have the blog and Facebook and if you don’t keep up with either of those, too bad. I don’t have any more to give!

    Hope your holidays are as stress free as possible!

  2. I LOVE Seinfeld and thank you for reminding me of this particular episode I had forgotten. I love the way you’ve constructed this so clever and funny and so true. I’ve completely identified with this internal dialogue.

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