Just a couple of writers on a road trip through life. Hop in, hold on, and don’t forget your rain boots.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Bragger and The Bellyacher

The holidays are upon us! My husband and I had our portrait session a week ago in preparation for our Christmas cards. Hopefully, I get them back this week so I can send them out. And I’m not the only one preparing for the holidays in such a manner. I have no doubt that soon I will be receiving holiday greetings in the mail from loved ones.  I love these, but there is one that makes me cringe. As a writer, there is nothing worse than receiving heaps of those holiday newsletters from friends and family alike. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love the pictures and the cards, but the newsletters just HAVE to go. They annoy me, every year. Why you might ask? Let me explain.
 There are two categories of holiday newsletters: the bragger and the bellyacher. The bragger is the most annoying. These typically go on and on detailing the exaggerated state of some wonderfully blessed and charmed life. It isn’t realistic. Nobody’s life is so sweet that rainbows and unicorns are counted among their other equally sickly sweet themes for the year. Here is an example of one such newsletter:
The Bragger
Dearest Friends and Family,
This year has been quite a year! Jason is doing wonderfully in school. Yes, our honor roll student has just been accepted to Harvard Medical School. He is very excited about this, as his deepest desire is to be a part of the program Doctors Without Borders. He spends his spare time volunteering at the local church and comes home on the weekends to help his Dad out with household chores. What a son we have!
Dan just got another promotion at work! He has also decided to go back to school for his PhD in Business. Earlier in the year, he surprised me with a trip for two to Hawaii for a week for our anniversary. It was like a second honeymoon.  He even got down on one knee and asked me to still be married to him, presenting me with a diamond anniversary band. Wow! What an amazing husband I have!
I have been busy at home remolding our entire house. It is SUCH hard work, but I know it will be worth it! I also started learning another language and have also decided to go back to school for my Master’s Degree. I am also planning a trip to Europe for the whole family. We will leave in a few months.  We are excited!
Well, that is what is going on with our family! We hope you and yours had a fabulous year!
Merry Christmas!
The Disgustingly Perfect Family Where Nothing Bad Ever Happens
Do you see what I mean? I don’t want to know how perfect your life is because the reality is that nothing is THAT good. Who are you fooling anyhow? Personally, I think you are just trying to brag and elicit jealousy in others. So, poo-poo on you!

The Bellyacher
Dear Family and Friends,
This year has been a difficult year for our family. Dan’s grandmother died, and then his uncle. After the shock of losing two family members, our family dog ran away and we have not been able to find him. We miss him very much and the kids are simply distraught.
Janey is struggling in school. We aren’t sure she will pass her high school exit exam. She has failed twice already. If she doesn’t pass, she will have to repeat her senior year. We wanted her to go to college, but we bought a time share and ran out of money to pay for it. We tried to sell it, but nobody wanted it. So, we had to take all of the money out of Janey’s college fund to pay for it.
Sarah is fine I suppose. She wasn’t going to go to college anyhow. We decided to pick our favorite child and that one would go to college, but it is all a moot point now anyhow.
I have been in and out of the hospital all year long. I was diagnosed with a peanut allergy, but I love them too much to give them up. I keep eating them, and I keep ending up in the hospital with anaphylaxis. I’ve lost a lot of pay because of it and now we are facing a pile of medical bills we cannot afford to pay.
Our house flooded recently during a freak cold snap. The pipes froze and our house flooded. Insurance will pay for it, but the dress I bought for the company holiday party is ruined. I tried returning it, but they wouldn’t take it back. Oh, well. I guess I'll go nude.
We are looking forward to next year. Hopefully it will be better.
Merry Christmas, if you can even call it merry.
The Family That Wants to Depress You, Then Get You Commiserate in all of Their Misfortunes

Do you see what I mean? There is no way round it. You can’t write a newsletter that doesn’t squarely fall into one of these categories. You can rotate it with a good thing, then a bad, but then you just sound ridiculously ambivalent about your year in review. I’ve also noticed that these newsletters almost always have rampant grammatical errors and there is at least one downright hysterical typo. For example, “This year my husband will be assfitting me with the holiday baking. It should be a lot of fun!”  Oops! That should have read “assisting.” What a difference a little proof reading makes. Ha!
No really, as much as I complain about these newsletters, I equally relish the moments when I can read and laugh at them. So, send me your best! And maybe one day, as a joke, I will send you my own, but can I write it in a new category? Outlandishly funny? Eh, I’ll just stick to my photo greeting card.  

Stephanie D. Birch is a Writer Freak who isn’t above fabricating a story for a holiday newsletter that will inspire, entertain and make you laugh so hard that your drink comes out of your nose. If you want to read her version of her own holiday newsletter, comment below or email her at birchwordnerd@yahoo.com


  1. I love Christmas letters and look forward to getting them every year. I hope my friends and family keep them coming, in fact I challenge you to send me one this year. I'm so crazy about them that I have more than 12 years of Christmas letters scrapbooked with Christmas photos and cute cards. BRING IT! SDA

    1. Challenge accepted. I will craft a holiday newsletter and post it for all to see. Watch our world! Stephanie's going to rock that holiday newsletter. :-)
      Stephanie D. Birch

  2. Yeah, I hate it when people don't proofread what they write.

    On a completely unrelated note, what exactly is "remolding" a house? Is that when one is concerned about the low levels of toxic mold in their house and have to manually apply more?

    Just sayin'..... glass houses, stones, etc......

    1. Ha ha ha! I was wondering when someone would noticed that! You win the prize!
      -Stephanie D. Birch