Sunday, December 12, 2010
My mother's family used to make a point of sending out regular news letters to one another. And every few weeks or months we would get an envelope with the latest letters from cousins and uncles forwarded to us. It seemed like a nice idea to me at the time. My parents didn't seem so enthused. In looking back I now realize that it obligated my mother to write back and forward the package along. My father always seemed particularly annoyed that their was no real news in these letters. You knew that Aunt Gertrude wasn't going to write, "Jim started drinking again and wrecked the Studebaker last week." Or, "Our new pastor, Dr. Jones, has been banging the Church secretary like a screen door." They also opened each of us for judgement by the others. Writing a response could require considerable diplomacy.
Particularly at Christmas, the family letters took on the tone of those who are counting their blessings. But those blessings would never include things like, "Thank God Marjorie broke up with that awful hippy she met at college before she got herself pregnant." Even though that would have to rate pretty high on the list of things someone could really be thankful for.
I do love the fact that my mother's family were decent, faithful, conservative, old Protestants. Wire rim spectacled Main Street Republicans since Lincoln. They tried to love and understand why, in mid-life, my parents became Unitarians who supported Ceasar Chavez, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. And as the older generation faded away, family letters became less frequent. They finally stopped about the same time my parents joined a New Age Church in Santa Monica and sent me to a Catholic High School.
Which brings me to my topic. The Blog Christmas Letter. I sent a family Christmas letter home in a Moosehead Beer box full of canned goods and crafts we produced on the farm this year. In the letter I described what Susan and I grew and harvested for the goodies we sent home to California. And I shared the news about our kids and their efforts. You know, I'm sure my family will enjoy the gifts, the letter and the photos we sent. But after browsing the letter again (a bad habit of mine...geez once it's written and sent...let it go!) I also realized that it reads like a Christmas package from the Waltons. And I was reminded of those long gone relatives of mine who shared their stories and sent Christmas greetings in letters instead of shipping us a Chia Pet. They came from a culture where sharing tame family gossip was how they knew each other. Here in PEI, that culture of being known by your story is still very real. And that really is where the old folks were coming from...and it may be the place that social media is taking us back to.
Does telling who we are really make us who we are?
Maybe. Maybe your family never communicated like that at all. Or maybe communication was all read between the lines. I just thought it would be interesting to write a Christmas letter from the farm to everyone who wants to read one. It's not about the "news" (that will keep for another time) it's about how and why we reach out to each other, especially at this time of year.
The Blog Christmas Letter
Dear Ones -
Thank you for reading my words and sharing your comments. Thank you for your gentle company on a journey that sometimes thrills me and other times scares me into hoping I won't disappoint you, myself or my loved ones.
I'm grateful to you for giving me a reason organize my thoughts from time to time...to be mindful of my daily life and the wonders I'm fortunate to experience. Thanks for the comfort of allowing me to be in touch with you as I move beyond previous experience into the unknown.
Thank you for allowing me to read your blogs and emails, facebook pages and projects so I know we're not alone and foolish for wandering "far from the madding crowd".
Your time and interest are a wonderful gift.
Whatever faith you profess (or lack) I wish you a happy and blessed Christmas Day and at least one Dream Come True in the New Year.