Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Letter

Have you gotten enough third-person self-congratulatory TMI Christmas letters yet? I have. It's a grand tradition in our extended family. For the first time this year, I didn't write one, blaming school for keeping me too busy. But in reality, I'm just not up to outdoing myself. I've written in the form of screenplays, quizzes, travelogues, verse, and more, and after a while it just gets difficult to keep it up!

But this topic brings up one of our favorite naughty traditions this time of year. One day each December we get the card from J's grandma, and we let out a cheer and settle down to read it together.

Why does her letter bring us so much joy? Well, Grandma is one of these people, and you probably know some too, who cannot resist filling her letters with every imaginable ailment and detailed bodily function. We noticed this in particular a few years back, when we started getting health news written in our birthday cards. It would be: "Happy Birthday. My shingles have been acting up. Love, Grandma." It got to where we'd be so full of anticipation that any little mention of her or her husband's health would send us into fits of giggles. Usually it is all we ever hear about them.

We had a close call a year or two ago, when the Christmas letter opened with "we haven't had any health problems this year to speak of." Oh no! Would this be yet another boring normal letter? But Grandma did not disappoint. She filled two pages with tales of everyone else in the family's health problems! I mean, it wouldn't be Christmas without a couple visits to the hospital and some fainting.

So in the spirit of sharing this season, I thought I'd give you some of this year's letter for your amusement:

Christmas 2005

"The time is here to either get this letter going or forget it altogether. So I'm trying...I'm trying!!!

"Most of the year was filled with trips to the Doctor (for me mostly) or recuperating from the trips. I still fought with the diarrhea, but think I have it under control for the time being. I had a chunk of my scalp removed because it was malignant. I got back in a few months for a check up. It seems to be doing okay, tho.

(family birthdays, graduations, illnesses, and deaths for several paragraphs - nobody is ever completely healthy, you know)

"[At Macinac Island] Frank got sick on the trip and we had to take him to the emergency room in Michigan. He had pneumonia, but was able to continue the trip after being dismissed at midnight. We had gone in at 8 P.M, [sic] They discovered blood in his urine so after several tests here, he was sent to a urologist who has him scheduled for a bladder scope on the 29th of Dec. Melani has invited me to a 'Teddy Bear' tea on the 17th. That should be fun."

And so on. I don't repeat this to be mean or anything, I just find it amusing that for many people, this is the most important stuff they have to write about in any given year. Maybe I'm just spoiled or lucky or impossibly optimistic, but when I write letters I like them to induce smiles not vomiting.

Maybe I'm being too much of a jerk. She is at an age where many obsess about their health. It's just quite amusing when it builds up over time. I wish I'd kept others. I'm going to from now on. It will be like a little chronicle of their demise.

I'd better go wake J up now. We went to lunch at the Souplantation but it seems to have upset my system. Nothing like the other night when we had the pork, though. Whew!

Oh, forget it, I can't even try it. She's the all-time master.


Devon said...

I understand completely and I don't think you're being a jerk. I have a great-aunt who always writes about the most mundane things: "It rained a little bit yesterday. My tulips will enjoy a little bit of extra water. I planted three more bulbs this year in my front yard" and so on. Ah relatives!

Ruth said...


I have the same grandmother.
Her favorite topic is diarrhea and constipation.