YOU ASK! WE ANSWER! YOU DECIDE!
By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: It is time for me to receive the annual Christmas letter from some of my acquaintances. What do you think about people who write all their activities for the year and mail them out with their Christmas cards? Is there a way to opt out of receiving them?
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I always like to read what my friends and their families have been doing in the last year, especially when the “newsletter” comes from people who I don’t keep up with regularly but still care about.
People can debate whether these newsletters come across more as a brag sheet for overachieving kids or are a good way to connect with loved ones, but I generally enjoy catching up with a family’s successes and mishaps. If the ones you are receiving don’t sit well with you, then just skip reading them and throw them away. You don’t have to tell anyone or discuss it with the senders, although you might not understand what activities they’re talking about the next time you see them.
Or, you could handle this situation harshly, Internet-style, and return the letters with the words “unsubscribe” written across the envelopes or, even, scribbled with the popular Internet phrase “tl; dr” (“too long; didn’t read”). That would solve your problem of having friends who want to share their news with you. If you’d rather stay friends, then I would say nothing to them and enjoy your own newsletter-worthy, holiday memories privately.
HELEN’S ANSWER: If you don’t have time to read your friend’s Christmas letter, just toss it. I think it might be rude to tell them to quit sending it. Some people really enjoy writing and taking pictures, so they just combine those skills and create their letters. I must admit I love catching up on family events this way, but it might be more fun to call that friend for lunch so you can hear all about their activities in person.
What happens when the annual Christmas letter comes via email? If you don’t want to read it, hit delete.
GUEST’S ANSWER : Richard Rosser, author of the Piggy Nation book series and musical and first assistant director for “The Neighbors” on ABC: I enjoy reading what friends have been up to.
Granted, some folks get carried away, writing epics about their cat’s digestive problems or horrendous house remodels. As to “opting out” of such letters, I theorize the following: If you ask to opt-out of a friend’s holiday treatise, your friend may decide to “opt-out” of your friendship.
Why not fix yourself a nice mug of hot chocolate, cozy up next to a warm fire and catch up on your friend’s activities? When you read a particularly humdrum holiday history, you can always use it as fuel!
Callie Gordon is twenty-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com.