The Emperor's New Clothes (02/12/12)

We like to sneer at Christmas round robins, but David Randall is proud to be writing (a short) one today

Share
Related Topics

This weekend, I will sit down and commit what is now almost universally regarded as a social clanger. I will write a round-robin letter of family news to slip inside some of the Christmas cards I send. It will define me, according to popular thinking, as being beyond any remotely acceptable pale. I might as well live in Croydon and own a caravan; both of which, as it happens, I also do.

The letters have gained this terrible reputation because alarming numbers of folk have used them as a form of social point-scoring – school playground boasting, only with better grammar. You know the kind of thing: "Lavinia got straight A-stars and is bound for Trinity, Cambridge, to join her brother Tarquin. She plays flute in the National Youth Orchestra, and her latest wheeze is learning Mandarin. She spends the entire journey every Friday night down to our cottage in the Cotswolds conjugating verbs!" And then there are the bores, the senders of 3,500-word journals of the year recording everything from their eBay purchases to the state of the toilets on the overnight ferry to Bilbao. Both kinds are not so much information for the recipient as therapy for the sender.

There is another way. We have friends from our youth, and relatives distant in every sense, with whom a Christmas card is the only contact. They have a passing interest in us, and so get a brutally brief news summary, eg "Paul married Laura in July, Tom is now engaged to Roisin …" etc. Just the facts, no comment, and, for a family of wife, husband, four sons, attendant daughters-in-law and grandson, not much more than half a page on one side of paper. It abides by two further dictums: self-deprecation rarely works on paper, and anything of which you are inordinately proud should be struck out. No one likes a braggart.

Alternatively, to enliven Christmas card sending, you could adopt the approach of my grandfather. Every year, he would send spoof cards to well-chosen targets. Once, to his street's most ardent temperance campaigner, he despatched a card depicting some especially boisterous wassailing with, written inside in a cheery hand: "Thanks for all your custom, Dolly at The Rose and Crown".

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company has been manufacturing high quali...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is the fairest onl...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Production Planner is require...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

No more big characters or Tory clowns like Boris Johnson. London desperately needs a boring mayor

Rachel Holdsworth
Cilla Black lived her life in front of the lens, whether on television or her earlier pop career  

Cilla Black death: A sad farewell to the singer who gave us a 'lorra, lorra laughs'

Gerard Gilbert
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen