Posts Tagged With: greetings

The Year of Three Christmas Letters

We wrote three Family Christmas letters one year.

Version One:

christmas card outtakes 2007- choke hold

christmas card outtakes 2007- choke hold (Photo credit: Nikki McLeod)

The reality check, went something like this:

Pretty much our life hit rock bottom this year.  It’s been filled to brim with financial setbacks galore, unemployment, minimum wage jobs for the grown ups, multiple visits with various government workers, lots of paperwork, mechanical failures of every kind, mental health issues, surgeries, poor health, teenage angst and rebellion out the wazoo, junior high drama.  You name it, we’ve experienced it.  It’s a wonder we’re all still sane.  Hope your family is having a better year than we are.  Merry Christmas!

Version Two:

The rated G for too-good-to-be-true version, went something like this:

Just wanted to update you on our family’s stellar year!  Dad has had plenty of time to work on projects around the house, mom is busy expanding her résumé! We’ve added doctors and lawyers to our list of close acquaintances!  Each of the children have increased their knowledge base with new experiences and fun and exciting people!  Time just seems to race by with all that we have going on!  What a year!!!!!!!!!!!  Here’s hoping you’re family is as wonderful and great as ours!  Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Version Three:

A kind of tightrope act between the first two letters, went like this:

Thought we’d let you know what’s happening in our neck of the woods.  It hasn’t been a very good year for us, but we’re making the best of it. Mom has gone back out into the workforce and so us kids have had to step up a bit and help out more.  Dad’s been looking for work for a while. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re learning a lot. We could use some extra prayers if you’re the praying sort.  We surely do pray for and love you and your family.  We feel blessed to know you.  Here’s to a Happy New Year for all of us!

christmas card

christmas card (Photo credit: Stephen Rees)

I can’t remember if we actually mailed any letters out at all. I don’t think we did. Couldn’t afford the stamps, or ran out of time. It was pretty hilarious writing them all, kind of healing to laugh at the pain.

Maybe it was our way of dealing with all the letters we received that made our toes curl with jealousy or irritated us with their rose-colored glasses perspective. Or maybe it was a reaction to the view that everyone else has a perfect life, a perfect family, a perfectly normal kind of constant happiness. We knew that wasn’t true, but it can feel that way when your life has gone south.

Sometimes laughter really is the only way to treat life’s headaches.

p.s. The preceding events may have been altered or fictionalized or embellished for brevity as well as sanity.

p.p.s. If you send out Family Christmas letters, please keep doing so, we love hearing about your family, warts and awards and all!

p.p.p.s.  Merry Christmas!

Categories: Family, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How Are You?

Just for fun, when the grocery clerk, or the bank teller, or the fast food server, asks my dad, “How are you today?” he often replies with “fair to poor” in a pretend whiney, worn out voice.  Then he smiles at them.  About half the time there’s no reaction.  Sometimes, they respond with, “Oh, sorry to hear that.” Sometimes they don’t know what to say but he can tell they were paying attention, because they seem to be searching for the correct response.

Here in the US, and many other countries, asking, “How are you,” is more of a greeting than an actual concern for someone’s well being.  It’s much like saying, “Good Morning,” or “Hello,” or “Nice Day.”

Smiley Face

Smiley Face (Photo credit: GreyArea)

The socially acceptable answer to “How are you” is “I’m fine, how are you?”  Perfunctory.  Pleasantries exchanged.  End of interaction.

It’s a tricky thing though.  The question seems like a real question, and to someone who’s having a less than stellar day, who might need a person to express genuine concern about how they are doing, it’s a frustrating exercise.

Sometimes, someone really is inquiring after your health, or well-being, and they’re prepared and wanting a full and honest answer.  Knowing who and when this is can be a tightrope walk.  Too much information is, after all, a bit awkward.

This exchange happening always humors me when I’m in a doctor’s office or worse, an emergency room.  Doctor walks in and says, “How are you today.”  Patient answers, “Fine.” Which is the expected answer, even in this situation.

“Well, no not really, I’m here, seeing you, a doctor, obviously I am not fine,” is what I’m thinking, and sometimes what I say out loud after answering with “Fine.” I’m thinking maybe doctors need to come up with a better question to ask a patient on entering a room.

There’s this great movie, “The Italian Job,” that deals with this quirky inquiry in a fun way.  I try to think of it most days when this question arises.  Some days it applies more than others.

It’s an acronym for the word FINE. The idea is that when one of the characters says, “I’m fine,” what they really mean is I’m:

Freaked Out.

Insecure.

Neurotic and

Emotional.

It’s what most of us are feeling about 50% of the time anyway, isn’t it?  Or is it just me?

If we crossed paths sometime, and you said, “Oh, hello, how are you?”  I could genuinely answer, regardless of the days’ ups and downs, “Oh, I’m FINE!” and really mean it.  I could mean it in the conventional way, I could mean it in the really having a great day way, or I could mean it the “Italian Job” way.

I’d put money on the “Italian Job” most days if I were you.

In the meantime, “Have a nice day! ”

Categories: Humor, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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