“Oh, Eddie If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now. “This insightful quote from Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation more than likely may sum up the many thoughts percolating in several of my friends and family. At a time of joy and peace throughout the world, I sometimes land in the unenviable spot of public enemy #1. Yes, I write a Christmas Letter. I can feel the roll in your eyes and I would agree that it’s a headscratcher. Much like the dreaded fruitcake, the Christmas letter holds its own as the single worst holiday tradition to partake.
In this age of social media and constant access to information, most would say that there’s little reason to digest a year in one page of text. But what if you don’t partake in social media? Yes, the ugly truth is I’ve never been on Facebook and neither has my wife. I’m confident that we are two of the most unknown people left in the world. No updates, no likes, no brags and best of all…no drama. We truly have friends and family that have no idea what we do over the course of a year and could care less about reading my blog and honestly, may not know it exists since I mention it in the letter. Hmmm, clue? This letter, in all its cheesiness is our outlet to the outside network of our past lives.
The Most Hated Page of the Year
Probably the only thing worse than being the author of such an over glorified brag session on paper, is a Christmas letter from someone who travels. This one addition makes it the extra layer of fruit on that fruitcake. These letters are notorious for being dull, self-absorbed and simply a “Na Na Na Boo Boo” type of correspondence. In my case it’s a tradition, and one that believe it or not seems to be enjoyed by most. It probably helps that I’m fully aware of the negative connotations associated with the dreaded letter. So aware that I have tailored my letter to be 1/3 humorous, 1/3 “matter of fact” info on the family and then the final 1/3. This final 1/3 isn’t a third at all. In fact, it’s usually a one-sentence summary of the places we’ve been.
Yet in this innocuous series of a couple dozen words lie the dagger. If the letter itself was the wound, a few words that detail the prior year’s adventures is the salt. For some, and I usually know who they are, the one sentence becomes the focal point. Relaying your travel experiences, whether in a letter, blog or a Facebook post can be misconstrued. For those who follow in the footsteps of the travel-minded population, the enjoyment of other travelers’ journeys stokes a fire. For those who choose a more sedentary lifestyle, these journeys simply extinguish the flames, and not with water mind you!
Reducing a Wonderful Year to a Footnote
Each year the task of writing this letter becomes a little more difficult. With a steady dose of “been here, done that” increasing exponentially, I try with open eyes to not rain on parades of others with our many excursions. Consider that I love to write and can plaster information on this blog for the world to see, and you see my conundrum. I can write countless posts on the beauty of St. Kitts and Nevis including zip lining for the first time at 1,200 feet above the ground. Or describe in detail how bright the stars were in the middle of the night while visiting Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Or what about that incredible dinner on the rooftop in New York City in April?
But instead, out of respect for the people I care about, all of those details and more were reduced to this: As most of you know we budget travel and spend very little on some pretty crazy trips. This year was no exception with trips to St. Croix, Utah, Seattle, Vancouver, New York City, St. Kitts, Nevis, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. It’s even tough for me to read, because these trips meant so much more to my family than an afterthought represented here.
It’s a fine line between enjoying your travels aloud and gloating of your travels. What’s more discouraging is once you achieve that alter ego of “traveler”, it starts to define you and the very mention of any future trip brings groans or looks to the side of here we go again. It’s entirely understandable as I haven’t always been lucky enough to test the waters of the world. I’ve been on the other side of the fence and have certainly looked with disdain on others who spoke of adventures. At some point I decided to hop the fence and see for myself and my family that we could reclassify ourselves as victims of wanderlust. My hope is that others will look at traveling with a new perspective and not view it as a pipe dream.
Scrooge Won’t Stop Me!
It’s safe to say that I will continue my futile attempt of not bringing attention to ourselves but the tradition will carry on. A little bit of cheese around this time of year brings a smile to my face. And I admit a part of me enjoys the fact that my letter can be a part of Christmas lore and excess for years to come. Knowing that I could be the reason people drink so much during the holidays brings a sense of warmth and comfort. So grab you a glass of whiskey-induced eggnog, munch on some of that tired fruitcake enjoy those Christmas letters you love to hate.
It’s the Gift That Keeps on Givin’