Sunday, 13 December 2009

Round Robins

Yesterday we received our first Christmas 'round robin'. I'm not sure what to make of them. On the one hand I'm glad of the opportunity to catch up with old friends who I don't see very often and only hear from at this time of year, but on the other hand they can come over as rather boastful and often leave me feeling rather inadequate. Illusions of the achievements of my past year are shattered when I learn that someone else has been cruising in the Caribbean, or bought a second home in the Dordogne, or whose children have got a clean sweep of A stars in their GCSEs. I don't think I could ever bring myself to write a Christmas letter, unless I took up the suggestion of a friend and wrote a spoof one, chronicling all the disasters that had befallen me in the previous year.

A few years ago I came across the excellent The Cat that could open the Fridge Door by the Guardian columnist Simon Hoggart. This compilation of Christmas round robins sent to him by readers had me in stitches. He has now brought together this and a subsequent collection (The Hamster that loved Puccini) in a volume entitled The Christmas Letters. The perfect stocking filler.

Anyway, what do you think of Christmas letters? Are they a source of information or entertainment? Do they make you feel better or worse about your own year? Do you write your own, and if so how do you decide what to include and what to leave unwritten? Have I been too hard on them?


  1. I haven't had a round robin yet this Christmas, but the ones that I do normally get are from friends who have moved abroad and include a simple family photo. However I know what you mean, when I've pondered whether I ought to do one myself (on account of me being so bad at keeping in touch with folk), I stop because I never know what to write. Maybe I should just send them my blog address instead :-)

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I too yearn to write one that rounds up the year's downers. On the other hand I am as guilty as the rest as I tend to present only my upbeat self to the world. Thanks for mention of Simon Hoggart - sounds a welcome balance.