Sunday, January 07, 2007

Family Newsletter - 2006

I have been wading through a pile of Newsletters that arrived from family and friends while I was away. I have never been inspired to write one of these myself, as they are overwhelmingly boring, though I realize that is hypocritical coming from a Blog Author. Even so, why would I want to know the names of my nephews' elementary school teachers? Why would I want to know that my friend's partner's ex-husband visited them in April?

I realize that these Newsletters have been ridiculed by many before me. In the interest of fairness, perhaps I should write one myself, right here, so that I can fully appreciate the challenges of coming up with something interesting about my family's 2006 experiences. So here goes, my first and probably last Family Newsletter:

2006 News from the X Family!

We can hardly believe it, but it's time once again to recite at length the events of our year! It was a bit of a slow year for us, so we will probably make some things up and give extra details of our cats' health problems, just to fill up the page. Note that in this letter we will refer to ourselves in the first person plural to reflect the fact that large parts of this newsletter were written with our orange tabby.

We hate to boast, but in this case we must: we cleaned our house thoroughly for the first time in 8 years! This turned out to be fascinating because one of us didn't know the house was so filthy until we started cleaning, and another of us knew all along but never mentioned it. We have concluded that living in squalor has boosted the immune system of our offspring, accounting for her remarkable health and inability to acquire even the most common of childhood illnesses.

In other family news, the two professors in the family continue to have unhealthy but satisfying obsessions with inorganic substances and processes, with occasional thoughts about carbon and nitrogen but not too many. One important discovery that we made this year was that if you are in the wilderness for 10 days or so and you get sap in your hair on the top of your head on Day 2, with no chance of getting it out other than cutting your own hair with a Swiss Army knife and without looking in a mirror, you will be living with the aesthetic consequences of that for a very very long time.

The cats have had an amazing year. Z's prey total reached a new high. Torturing and killing small rodents no longer challenges him intellectually, so he has channeled his creative energies into artistically arranging his dead rodents on the walkway and front steps. We think he has a real flair for this, and have been looking to enroll him in some cat/art enrichment courses. In the meantime, we got him a YouTube account and he has been posting short movies of his rodent-killing prowess there.

Our daughter, who still spends an inordinate amount of time talking to small bean-filled animals, is doing well in school and in life in general. After losing a huge number of her front teeth in 2004-05, her mouth has decided to retain all the rest of its teeth until some unspecified time in the future, resulting in a distressingly long Tooth Fairy hiatus at our home. We have told her that the Tooth Fairy hates her, and are wondering if we should have said that, but figure we won't find out the answer for another 5-20 years.

That's about it for 2006, other than some travel, family visits, experiences with sexism, various awards, promotions and so on. Happy New Year!


DrOtter said...

Ah, quite fantastic. Although, I believe you missed out on boasting that your Cat/Daughter is superior in all. possible. ways. to any other Cat/Daughter who ever walked the planet.

I dislike family newsletters so much - and they are worse now that people have discovered desktop publishing to insert pictures and clipart!

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever seen a family news letter before, but I like yours. I hope it's not your last!

Ianqui said...

That's awesome. You really should send it.

Anonymous said...

I wish the ones I get were half that entertaining! :D

Anonymous said...

This way lies madness.

My family decided that we couldn't stand all the sappy, bragging newsletters, so we started writing completely false and outrageous ones. Newsletters in which I was living in a cardboard box in New York City; my father was leading a planted guerilla insurgency in a small African nation; my mother was starting a self help empire based on her book "The Inner Karma of Brassicas"; my little sister was matriculating at the Citadel; the whole thing was written by the dog.

The only problem is that we keep having to up the ante every year.

Anonymous said...

Ahh..the mystery of dirt visible to one person not another....

As for letters, I confess I love them. My parents moved us around every 3 years or so, to completely different communities, so it's our only chance to find out what our contemporaries are doing and get a bit of perspective. The clip art is also interesting in the sense - ooh x looks just like his Dad (we're interested in that in our family!)

That said, we live in a part of the world where blowing your own trumpet is definitely not culturally acceptable - it's done via understatement usually.

Now that Mum and Dad have retired , letters tend towards a familiar pattern of relating which child or grandchild is going to/has come back from London/got married/engaged/had a baby, and grandparents universally mention "real delight" in spending time with grandchildren.

There's also a fair bit of recounting the minor health problems overcome, and the grieving of loss of brothers or aunts, the enjoyment of more time in retirement. It maintains connections (always the invitation to call in for a cup of tea if passing through Hometown). And the sense that if x managed to sort up their late mother's estate, you can manage too, when the time comes.

I think it is a relation of the communality of experience, as much as anything.

Nicole said...

I wish I had gotten a letter like that instead of the ones I did receive. I counted 27 exclamation points in one letter that was a page long.

Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I like those letters, even the boring ones. We don't write them where I come from, so we only get two from American families we know. Without those yearly letters, we'd have lost track of which state they're living in long ago.

Anonymous said...

I'm not ashamed to admit it: I really like the yearly newsletters, in whichever form they come. I spend all year feeling like I should keep in better touch with many people, and I genuinely enjoy hearing whatever (and however) all my extended friends and family have to say once a year.

Anonymous said...

That's not in the third person. It's in the first person plural.

Female Science Professor said...

True. There was a part I took out, so the rest doesn't make sense now. Oh well, I have failed at newsletters.

Ms.PhD said...

Failed? Are you kidding??!!!

I laughed so hard I almost cried. The part about cleaning the house and the daughter spending inordinate amounts of time talking to bean-filled animals... just about killed me.

I am breathing again now, but I have to sincerely thank you for a much-needed laugh today.

Anonymous said...

Count me as another person who laughed so hard she cried.