Christmas Round Robin Letters – do you love them or loathe them?
I don’t usually write one but this year I did and it’s currently winging its way to those I rarely see. The cost of postage drove me to include the letter with my cards. I begrudge paying 50p (second class postage) just to stick a card in an envelope so I decided that people were going to hear what my family did in 2012 – whether they wanted to or not. After all, I’m supposed to be a writer so it shouldn’t be difficult to make a round-up of the last 12 months sound interesting.
It was a lot harder than I expected!
I tried to be mindful of the fact that no-one wants to read a list of my daughters’ achievements and their plans for the future. I’ve received letters like that and they leave me feeling totally inadequate. So I skirted over that and moved onto how the recession has impacted the working lives of my husband and me. Then I decided that talk of redundancies was too depressing so I moved on to the interesting things we’ve done in our spare time – and came up with nothing!
Writing a round robin letter is like trying to have a one-sided conversation in the dark. It’s impossible to gauge whether you are boring people because there’s no facial expressions to read and no feedback in the way of comments. So I did my best and sent it out . It’s up to the recipients whether they read it or bin it and from now on I’ll be much less dismissive of the letters I receive because I know how difficult they are to write!
If you’ve had any letters printed in a newspaper or magazine during 2012 you might be interested in a competition run by the Association of Christian Writers. ACW’s UK letter writing competition is looking for the best letters published in any national, regional or local magazine or newspaper during 2012. There is a prize of £50 for the best single letter published and prizes of £100, £50 and £25 for collections of 6 letters published in 6 different publications. Closing date is 31/12/2012. Full details are here.
#1 by Christine Howe on December 6, 2012 - 1:54 pm
I fired up the laptop to begin writing Christmas letters and up popped your blog post on round robins. I don’t object to receiving them as I always like to know how old friends are getting along, even if their letters aren’t personal.
I do try to send personal letters, but with a little cheat: I have a core letter, which I add to with different bits of news, depending on the intended recipient. Now, best get on – no more blog reading.
#2 by Sally Jenkins on December 6, 2012 - 2:33 pm
That’s a good idea, Christine, to have a core letter and add personal bits to it. Hope you’ve got all your letters written now.
#3 by susanjanejones on December 6, 2012 - 7:42 pm
He’s definately a round robin Sally, I prefer to hand write a few lines to a couple of favourite aunts and a cousin. They tend to be the same news but shuffled round a bit. Occasionally I put in a poem, but I put different ones to each as I know they’re bound to discuss them with each other. Mind you, this year I’ve given one or two the Cafe Lit 2011 book with one of my stories in.
#4 by Sally Jenkins on December 7, 2012 - 12:38 pm
I like the poem idea, Susan – I’m sure that’s very much appreciated.
#5 by Tracy Fells on December 6, 2012 - 7:50 pm
I’ve always written a core letter like Christine above, but this year thought about the whole process. The people I really want to keep in touch with I email throughout the year so suddenly wondered why I was bothering with a Xmas letter. May be sad to see the decline of writing letters, but in reality I think we are all closer to those who really matter these days through mobiles/emails/Facebook etc. See I’ve talked myself out of it now!
#6 by Sally Jenkins on December 7, 2012 - 12:42 pm
It is easier to keep in touch these days, Tracy, and letters are definitely on the decline. But there are some people I’m not in regular contact with but still care about (such as uni friends who I spent formative years with) so I suppose my letter is for them.
#7 by Patsy on December 6, 2012 - 8:09 pm
I don’t send out these type of letters, but do write to some people. I don’t mind receiving them though I often only skim through.
#8 by Debbie Young on December 7, 2012 - 7:31 pm
Great post, Sally – that’s a really good idea of a way to get more value for money out of your postage stamp! I receive a handful of round robin letters, some cringe-making and others that we positively look forward to opening each year, and I suspect I’d be less critical of them all if I followed your example and tried writing one myself! Happy Christmas to you!
#9 by Sally Jenkins on December 7, 2012 - 8:14 pm
Happy Christmas to you too, Debbie (and to everyone else!)
#10 by Debbie W on December 12, 2012 - 12:54 am
I write a core letter and change a few details and I do it on the computer then email if I can. I used to write single, hand written letters but became fed up repeating myself.
I like receiving letters at christmas, or emails from folk I don’t keep regular contact with. It’s a pleasant surprise when they come with a card, trying to guess who the handwriting on the envelope belongs to. Happy Christmas, Sally and all.
#11 by Sally Jenkins on December 12, 2012 - 4:04 pm
Debbie, it is nice hearing from ‘long-lost’ folk at Christmas – and changing a few details in each letter is a good idea.
#12 by Julia on December 13, 2012 - 3:40 pm
Thanks for the letter-writing comp link. I’ve sent it my mum, who really seems to have the knack of getting into The Daily Telegraph.
#13 by Sally Jenkins on December 13, 2012 - 4:21 pm
Fingers crossed for your mum, Julia. Let me know if she’s successful!