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December 12, 2013

ABBOTT: In defense of the holiday letter

Unless you are the grouchiest Grinch, your mailbox may be stuffed with cards, pictures and holiday letters over the next few weeks.

Call me old-fashioned but I still do the whole Christmas letter business. Starting in October, I carefully select cards — Christian cards for friends who share my faith and cards for those who celebrate the Festival of Lights. I choose stamps that reflect the card’s message, and then I write one of those horribly obnoxious Christmas letters — complete with well-selected pictures.

Perhaps you roll your eyes and toss my letter in the trash. I hope not. I come from a long line of women who liked notes, cards, and pictures in the mail. My grandmother LeNore Enz wrote something annually called the “Enz-o-Gram.”

In her 1967 version, she refers to the ten-year-old me as a “sweet and loving child who is a good reader and student.” She told about my singing in the children’s choir at the 450th anniversary celebration of the Protestant Reformation at the Fort Wayne Memorial Coliseum. I remember singing in the choir; I don’t remember being particularly sweet and loving.

My grandmother’s letter has that certain air of hyperbole of many holiday letters. While her letter is not particularly braggadocio, it’s also not entirely truthful and may slightly stretch the truth by not offering the full picture. Our family then, as our family now, is far from perfect.

This way of handling information is known as the sin of omission.

For many years, I wrote something called “The Newburgher” (a nod to “Talk of the Town” in “The New Yorker.”) Long on words and short on pictures, I realized it was a snooze to everyone but me. Even my husband wouldn’t read it. I’ve considerably shortened the letter and added several pictures.

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