Friday, November 27, 2009

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Letter

By Laurie Perry (Crazy Aunt Purl)

Every December my mailbox fills with glossy catalogs, credit card bills and those long, slim legal-sized envelopes decorated with candy canes or green Christmas trees that herald the beginning of the onslaught of mass-produced personal holiday letters.

Each one is carefully typed in a cute font and printed on cheerful holiday paper. It describes a year filled with the highs and lows and adventures of family life. Little Sarah excelled this year at volleyball and debate, while Matthew is a star swimmer and played the lead in the second-grade play. We finally got the dog/house/car/riding mower of our dreams, and we're all thrilled about baby Jessica's first little steps.

Sometimes a terrible thing happened but the author of the letter finds a way to make it somehow uplifting -- a learning experience or a life lesson. Husbands are loving and hardworking, wives take on charity work and head up committees at school or work and everyone had a great time on this year's family vacation.

I love these letters. I love them the way I love watching award shows on television -- I can't imagine what it's like to actually wear a fancy dress and walk the red carpet at the Oscars but I watch with rapt attention anyway, every single year. And every year I read these pre-printed, mass produced family holiday letters, some from people I barely know, with an outsider's fascination and curiosity. I don't have a huge network of acquaintances who need a one-page summary of my year to keep current on the exciting and happy news in my home. I am a single woman living in Los Angeles with three cats. The most exciting thing that happened to me in all of 2009 was finding out that Magic Eraser makes a mop.

But sometimes I still compose a little holiday letter in my head. If I did have some cheerful snowman stationary and a list of addresses, what would I say?

Dear friends and loved ones,

Well, 2009 is almost over – goodbye and good riddance! Then again, I work at a bank and it’s been Angela's ashes over here in the world of finance. The fact that I still have a job is miraculous, but just in case check with me when you get this letter to be sure I am still employed. A lot can change in three days.

I experimented with home hair color this year to save some money. People at work gasped out loud when they saw I had turned from blonde to deep, electric orange overnight. I lied and said I was experimenting with reviving the punk rock scene in Los Angeles but I'm pretty sure they guessed it was a disastrous Clairol moment. My hairdresser doesn’t work on Mondays and I was afraid to call in sick because of my hair so I did the best I could with a headband and an updo but I fooled no one. Did you know there isn’t really any shade of lipstick that goes with orange hair? Fascinating. Fixing my hair cost me twice what I would have spent in the first place and my hairdresser kindly said I looked like a refugee from the tacky nation of Tragicstan. Lesson learned.

Dating took a turn for the absurd this year. That guy who invited me over for dinner? Yeah. He had printed out a meal plan for me in case I was interested in going on a diet that he swore worked like a charm. He just knew it could work for me, too. I left immediately and drove directly to the nearest McDonald's which was childish but somehow very satisfying. Then there was the guy who was trying to feel me up on a lunch date and I was surprisingly unoffended. There was the guy who smelled like bongwater. The guy who tried to pick me up on the metro who was on his third DUI and couldn't legally drive again until he was 70. So many stories, so little wine.

I still have that 1995 Jeep Wrangler that I am deeply, emotionally attached to and refuse to give up on. My mechanic got thrown in the pokey so I had to start going to a different garage. Sometime in the summer I took my car in for an oil change and came out with yet another new radiator and a bill I had to pay in installments. When my mechanic got released from prison I took him a dozen donuts and bottle of tequila, which was as close to a successful date as I had all year.

The cats were cute and pooped a lot this year. I wrote a book, it's OK. It comes out next year and is just a longer version of this letter with more complaining, but there is a great recipe for fried zucchini and some knitting patterns. I think we can safely assume it will not win a Pulitzer.

I got addicted to Netflix and decided it was a better investment than dating so I upped my subscription plan. After a gardening tragedy I decided quite hastily to up and move and only later discovered that everyone in my new building except me is Russian and might be in the mafia. Or I could be making that up, my Russian is a little rusty. (That's what she said!)

And now it's December and the holidays are upon us. That should bring you up to speed. In the year ahead, may we all drink too much, eat too much and be felt up at lunchtime. I wish you many donuts and tequila and for the love of God please stay away from anything in the drugstore called “August Amber.” It’s a three-hour ordeal to get your hair back to a color that occurs in nature.

Love, Laurie

Laurie Perry lives in writes in Los Angeles where she chronicles her life in her online diary at www.CrazyAuntPurl.com. Her first book was Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair. Her next book, Home Is Where The Wine Is, will be available in February, 2010.

62 comments:

Norma said...

It would be wonderfully refreshing to receive a letter like this. Those other, plastic ones that you [say you] love [with, I am sure, your tongue planted firmly in your cheek]? YUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCK.

Gag me with a spoon.

:D

Anonymous said...

Dear CAP

I love you, and I look forward to each and every one of your posts...you make my day!

Sue said...

Magic Eraser makes a mop?!!!

naanie said...

I love your letter. My mom used to do those letters; she might still do it this year. She used to ask me what I wanted her to write about me for the letter, and this year I would say, 'Anjanette spent 2009 hibernating/mentally recovering after enduring a traumatic lay-off in November of 2008. She is still depressed but the meds are helping. Thank goodness for her cat Sweet Pea and her volunteering gig at a cat shelter. Also please thank butter.'

Of course, she would never put that in the letter; she has some sense of keeping things fake. . . I mean decorum.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, CAP! Please keep writing. I love your perspective!

Mary said...

I must echo Sue! Magic Eraser makes a mop???!!!! Way cool.

Shelley Malone said...

HAHAHA!! Now I want to go write a letter to send out with my Christmas cards - one that tells the REAL story. Thanks for the inspiration!

Tai said...

I'm gonna third on the whole "Magic Eraser makes a mop?????" Why, in the name of all that's holy, didn't you tell us sooner?!?!? I feel as if I've been forsaken:(

H. O. T. T. headshot, btw (and I'm straight as a board....

Can't wait for your new book:) You are my highly anticipated daily dose of snark, what keeps me rollin'!

Kitten said...

That just made my crappy Friday a whole lot better. (It would be at its very best if I had some rum and eggnog, but alas that is not going to happen today)

I really wish people sent out letters like that at Christmas, it would make the whole experience om the receiving end much, much better!

Thanks again for the laugh, I can not wait for your book!

Pam said...

Laurie, I am convinced we are twin sisters of different mothers. Except you are the cool twin. I don't even know what a Magic Eraser is!

JelliDonut said...

We used to get a brag-athon holiday letter from a family I have grown to loathe. Every year, their kids learned a new language, cured an obscure disease, single-handedly won the finals of every sport they played, and got the top grades in their classes. Dad's company expanded to yet another city and mom was on the board of yet another organization that was saving another animal/habitat/orphan. And don't get me started on the vacation photos from tropical islands. Not once did they ask how the recipient was doing, or expressed a wish for world peace, or even for a f*#king white Christmas. They stopped sending us a copy just before I could print up my own letter--think 'debilitating hemorrhoids' and 'prison terms'. I really wanted to send that letter.

Kim said...

The news that Magic Eraser makes a mop just made my day. Too bad I bought a Swiffer Wet Jet mop a few months ago...you should post a little review of the Magic Eraser mop, with before and after pictures and explanations of how easy it is to use :-)

Lisa Colquitt said...

My cousin used to send one of those letters every year. So cheesy! And yet..so very amusing. When my kids were younger, they used to grab them and read them out loud like newscasters, laughing and snorting about their cousins' "lame-o" exploits. Good times!

So,Laurie..have you taken your jeep back to Oso since he got out of jail? Just wondering. Happy Holidays!

katrynka said...

I actually like getting those letters! I know that it is all "whitewashed" to make it look good, but I do like to know what sort of things people have been up to. Oh well, I guess I am easily amused!

Allison said...

Thanks for the laughs! Oh, I wish I could write something as witty as this to describe our year. You've inspired me to give it a shot.

Liz J in Central Illinois said...

I love your Christmas letter! If you ever DO decide to start sending one out, please let me know so I can give you my address to send one to. I would frame it and look at it all year long! :-)

(LOVE being able to comment to one of your posts, Laurie - - just sayin' is all . . . )

Hope you had a GREAT Thanksgiving! :-)

Blue Satin Sashes said...

THERE IS A MAGIC ERASER MOP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Shana said...

Oh, Laurie. I laughed myself into a coughing fit. I must join Liz J in requesting that you make this an annual thing. You don't have to mail them out, obvs, but please do put up on the blog. Haaa.

Cristan said...

Laurie, I really wanted to buy your book on Audible today, but it wasn't there...any chance it ever will be? (Sorry this is off-topic)

Lisa Hughey said...

Laurie--
Thanks for visiting the Pens!! Loved your letter--am now off to revise mine *vbg*

Anonymous said...

That is a gas. My 90 year old aunt writes one of those letters, or I think she does; I haven't written X-mass cards for years so I am off her list. I dunno if I could write one like yours. "Howdy Friends: This year I became an orphan. Pretty rough year all around...." D'ya think they would like it? Not. I think I will pass. Again.

tara said...

I'm almost thirty, and am still included in my parents' letter, because I don't yet have a family of my own to write about.

That being said, I find it comforting to get the news of family and friends I don't keep up with. It's actually the written equivalent of facebook in some ways, where you keep in touch without actually interacting.

Anonymous said...

I must find the Magic Eraser Mop. I can't believe you've kept that to yourself (or that I missed it somehow on your blog). Love the letter- I have often fantasized about writing something similar. Hope your Christmas elves bring wine.--Tari

Gyps O Filia said...

Laurie will appreciate the birdwalk about Magic Eraser Mop, right? I just looked at a couple of reviews and people kind of hate the mop. =-(
http://www1.epinions.com/content_291502591620
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/403092/product_review_magic_eraser_mop.html?cat=46

Mel said...

I think we all make the mistake of trying hair color at home at least once. My auburn turned the blonde highlights in my hair bright orange too! Think my dad had it the worst though, he tried it while mom and I were out of town. His gray went orange, then he tried to bleach that out. Left the bleach on so long it burnt his scalp. Mom and I didn't even recognize him when he came to pick us up from the airport. Then the brown he used to later cover it turned green in the pool, talk about train wreck!

amyinbc said...

What a perfectly loveable holiday update :)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Clean magic eraser makes a mop? That is exciting!

Ambermoggie, a fragrant soul said...

fabulous letter:)

Donna said...

Thanks Laurie. You keep the humor in crazy. We need it!

tootie said...

This is hilarious! I wish more letters were like this.

Can't wait to read your new book!

Nancy said...

Great letter Laurie! I'd like to know about the Magic Eraser mop, too, please.

And Mel...I'm sorry that your father did that to himself but LMAO! I'm still chuckling over the line "Mom and I didn't even recognize him when he came to pick us up from the airport." LOL!

A. said...

"This year A. went into debt consolidation and moved in with her boyfriend that is unappreciative and whose mother is a lunatic and sister threatened to kill her. We are very proud."

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much Laurie- I start out my day reading your blog. Can't wait for the book!

Ashley said...

Haha funny letter.

I have one too...

"This year we went much deeper into debt. It was more debt than we ever thought possible! On the brighter side, I had the best Big Mac I've ever had from McDonald's. I asked for extra sauce. I think that was the ticket!"

bashtree said...

Funny, Laurie! I would be so thrilled to get a letter like yours!

Meredith said...

Ha! If the letters we got every year were as honest and funny as yours, I wouldn't mind reading them!

Anonymous said...

omg I love you, you totally made my day! I look forward to getting home from work during the week and sitting down at computer and reading your Crazy Aunt Purl.
Awesome letter :)

Anonymous said...

Magic Eraser Mop--damn!

Dorothy said...

I like your letter better than the fake ones about Johnny and Susy. If I wrote one it would be about a paragraph long and probably never get sent out. Sort of like the Christmas cards I always mean to send and never get around to mailing. Which reminds me...

Marty said...

As a longtime Crazy Aunt Purl lurker, it's neat to finally see your face. I just love the letter-sounds like something I'd write.

Maria said...

they're not russians they're armenians in your building...big difference!

Lucia said...

We just got home from Maine, and I am far too tired to mess about with fonts, but remind me sometime to teach you to say "Welcome to my totally screwed-up life" in Russian.

By way of illustrating why I should never write a Christmas letter I started an account of my Thanksgiving weekend; it is now a novella, and if I can pare it down a bit I will use it as my blog post tomorrow. Suffice it to say that multiplying the number of minor mishaps I can fit into one long weekend by an entire year would not be pretty.

Pulitzer, shmulitzer. I eagerly await your book.

Anonymous said...

Excellent!! I actually did send out a truthful one last year, after being laid up bed bound with a damaged spin for 4 months and spending the whole year awaiting surgery I was feeling a little....sour. So I told it as it was 2008 was the year of pain!!! It acually felt good sending it too !!
There are far more of us grumbly, cranky, crazy realists out there in the world than you might think, and letters like this help bring us together.
Thank you Laurie :)

Sarah said...

This was one of my favorite parts: "I got addicted to Netflix and decided it was a better investment than dating so I upped my subscription plan."

Shelly said...

Hmm....Shelly is still unemployed after resigning her job to move in with her fiance in another town, who, she discovered, sleeps with his teenage daughter and calls it a "parenting style". She is thrilled to be free of the numbnuts and is happily knitting a new life which will not include men until 'hell freezes over', an unlikely scenario given the current world climate situation. Happy Holidays.

Anonymous said...

Greatest Christmas Letter Ever!

woolywoman said...

Wait- a clean eraser MOP??? I must have. I think that your holiday letter is lovely, and I would like to get one like that. I am glad to hear your mechanic is back on the outside- I am still searching for the perfect mechanic.

Feronia said...

Laurie - you are an absolute treat and I love your particular way of telling like it is.

GC (God's Child) said...

hearts!
merry christmas and so on
don't stop writing!
Ever!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of magic erase mops, isn't it time for a new list of your favorite things Laurie?

I, myself have adopted your awesome lipstick that you reccomended- (it stays on all day!) and bought a few magic erase sponge thingys that work like a dream. (The Occitane sp? was a little too subtle and sophisticated for me, but it was a swell two weeks of feeling soft and smooth)

Your honesty and humor are what drew me to your site and your book and will continue to keep me chuckling at the computer screen, and buying your books!

Tinare said...

Ugh, I hate getting those letters. I'd rather someone just handwrite, "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year," than type up a totally impersonal, mass-produced missive. To me they say, "I couldn't be bothered to personally address you, dear friend (or family member), instead, since everything is about ME, here's a newsletter all about ME."

Yours, however, I would not mind receiving -- very funny and entertaining!

Anonymous said...

La-la-love you! There. That was my daily dose of peppy bubbly happiness.

You really do always make my day, Laurie. Thanks.

Ken said...

Almost as annoying as the mass produced letter is the Xmas postcard with the picture of the kids. Where are the adults? Why do I only get to see the kids?
So one year I retaliated. I created a postcard of my own. It was a picture of my dog, huddled in the debris of my current renovation project with a Santa hat on. The caption was "Merry Christmas to you too..." I sent it to everyone who sent me a kiddie card. Not a single one of the got the point. I am glad to read these messages and hear there are other crumudgeons like me out there.

Adrienne C said...

I'm one of those moms who sends out the mass produced letter every year along with the picture of the kids. I love writing and sending the letters. The outtakes of the pictures of the kids is well worth the 2 weeks it takes to get a decent pic (they are now 5 and 3 1/2 years old). Maybe this year we'll even include the dog - but no cats. I'm glad someone finds the letters amusing.

Carol said...

@Mel--I laughed at your story about your poor dad until I cried. I was on a conference call. Thank God for the mute button.

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
Loved your post - hilarious. My fave line: "So many stories, so little wine." I can't wait to read your next book!

Love,
B.

~drew emborsky~ said...

Dear Laurie,

You are my favorite Christmas boutique gift item!

xxoo
~drew~

Ellen Bloom said...

Yeah, awesome photo!

Anonymous said...

ok so you don't really have dark curly hair & wear silly sweaters? i am so confooozed

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing

Keira Mead said...

My mailbox is full of those things as well when its Christmas season. I love receiving glossy catalogues because I can use it as a scratch for my DIY cards.

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