Monday, January 08, 2007

Today's PSA: When sending Christmas cards, think "succinct"

At the risk of coming off as a serious @$$hole, something has come to my attention over the past couple of weeks that I strongly feel needs to be addressed.

We need to come together, as a community, as a society, as a humanity, to help each other out with this apparently growing trend that needs to be quashed before it's adopted by the culture-at-large. To steal a gig from Bill Maher, we need to make a New Rule.

When composing a letter to include with your Christmas cards, if you cannot keep your thoughts, stories, and recaps restricted to one page, in 700 words or less, typed with a readable 12-point font, you are no longer allowed to send such rambling discourses to your family and friends.

If this offends anyone, I sincerely apologize. I'm not talking about you; I'm really talking about someone else.

I know some of us enjoy catching up with people they haven't corresponded with in months or years. Maybe you enjoy writing out such thoughtfully detailed memoirs. Others among you might legitimately appreciate reading these chronicles. But I know there are some of us who just toss these epic dead scrolls in the garbage.

But I'm going to presume to speak for many others, such as myself, who feel compelled to say, "Enough already!" We don't need to know every single thing that happened to you over the past year. Okay, you took four trips. That's great. But maybe one stood out from the rest; how about focusing on that particular excursion? If your pet was neutered or spayed, that's notable. But have you ever considered that he or she might not want their bizness sent out across the country?

And do I even need to mention that the thing should be kept down to one page? If you are stapling pages of your Christmas letter together, consider sticking your finger into the device and stapling some sense into yourself, okay?)

We're a busier people these days. Leisure time is at a premium. Some of us would like to devote some of that time to reading other things, like books, newspapers, or magazines. Others might prefer to watch TV, listen to music, or surf the internet. A number of us might even enjoy doing all of those at the same time in a multi-tasking, Dagwood sandwich of leisure pursuits. And plenty of people out there want to devote their free time to their families. Do you really want to take people away from their spouses and children?

You know, maybe you could compose different editions of the Christmas card scroll for different people. Sure, your family probably wants to hear more. So maybe they get the fully loaded special edition. The director's cut, if you will. And then friends - especially if they're really more friends of your spouse than you - can receive the summarized, Cliff Notes edition. We don't need all of the extras.

(As a footnote, I'd like to follow up on that last point. Again, maybe some people that you're sending the Holiday Emancipation Proclamation to would like to know how your significant other is doing, since we probably only know you because he or she married you. So if you insist upon defying this New Rule that I'm betting a substantial majority of your peers will agree upon, and drafting a 1,000-word, two-page letter, typed in 8-point font, is it too much to ask for at least one paragraph devoted to the other members of your household?)

So how about it, Tolstoy? How about giving us all a present next holiday season and being judicious with some editing? Some of us would like to get to the books we received as Christmas gifts.