I’m about to wring Robin’s neck. The Robin in question is not a bird, nor a person, but the round type that circulates at this time of year. The really, really annoying kind.
I seem to have morphed into a manners guru, doling out guidance on everything from parenting to organization, none of which I am remotely qualified to do. And yet again, I am required to weigh in with my two-penneth worth to keep you all on the straight and narrow.
Firstly, let me be clear – I love to hear from you. I open greetings cards with anticipation and excitement, and it’s always lovely to hear what’s going on in your lives. Recently, however, there seems to be a change in the wind, and an increasing number of cards circulating include a glossy newsletter that would be more at home in a travel catalogue, Vogue, or a political campaign. They detail lavish holidays, breathtaking adventures, stunning exam grades, unblemished children, noble good works and attentive partners with a full head of hair and excellent abdominal toning.
We have a word for it in Britain. It’s called bragging.
Now, I haven’t yet received any, so I can comment with a clear conscience and you can breathe a sigh of relief. But should you be undecided about what people are really thinking about your Christmas newsletter, here’s a rundown.
1. If it includes pictures with wrinkle / sagging / acne free skin and immaculate hair, we need either the number of your plastic surgeon or the name of your photo editing software.
2. We assume the best about your children, so when you list their accomplishments as if we are the college admissions team, we either assume you are being ironic or trying to make us feel inadequate. When you mention that your eldest child is moving schools because the previous one didn’t have the resources to really challenge your child, we are hearing ‘juvenile detention centre’, for ‘gap year’, we assume unplanned pregnancy, and as for ‘working with the under privileged’? Incarcerated at Her Majesty’s pleasure.
3. When you retell stories of romantic sojourns with your partner, doubt about the state of your marriage creep into our cynical brains. When you mention the 2 carat diamond bling that you received for your birthday this year, we assume he/she is having an affair, and using the gift to you to cover up large other large purchases on the credit card, namely an even larger bauble for the totty. When you include pictures of your renewing your vows on Hawaiian beach at sunset, you’re pretty much confirming our fears.
4. When we hear that you are starting a new business, we assume that you have just been fired for making inappropriate comments to your boss at the office party.
What we do love to hear, however, is your disastrous run-in with a box of hair color, just what you said to your boss after getting drunk at the Christmas party, and any amusing but effective strategies for managing teenage children. Don’t however, do as one of my mother’s lifelong friends did on a yearly basis, start the letter with the words.
“It’s been a terrible year..”. Irresistable