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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Dec 13, 2013

Christmas is a time of year I can pretty much take or leave. The hubbub that comes with Christmas is the part that I can do without.

The commercialism leaves me as cold as a long December night.

Jan. 5 is one of my favorite days of the year as it means life will return to normal, which for me at that time of year is complaining about the cold and the dark.

Before I start coming across as Scrooge with his “Bah, humbug,” remark about Christmas, let me say there are a few things I enjoy.

They are the things I especially look forward to such as family gatherings with lots of socializing and good food.

This is the week I do another favorite Christmas job. It’s a job that many people do not enjoy and look at as a duty – the annual Christmas letter.

I believe I have been doing this for around 30 years and I am still surprised by people’s reaction to receiving them. Just to be clear, let me say it is a positive reaction.

If there is anyone who wishes I would remove them from my list, they haven’t told me (yet).

The people receiving our Christmas letter number about 110. Yes, it has the appearance of a form letter but I save the last few inches above the signature for a personal greeting. When it resembles a mass mailing, then I have gone too far.

The mailing list probably could grow to 120, but would probably be getting in that territory of those people who would say, “Why are you sending this to me?”

Only a few months ago, I saw a friend I had not seen in a long time at a grocery store and after our hello, she said, “We always enjoy your Christmas letter.”

At a family event several years ago, a relative of my wife told us that due to its length, our Christmas letter is considered good bathroom reading. I will assume that was meant in a positive way.

Those 110 recipients range from close friends I see weekly to people I may see once every few years and only hear from me at Christmas. That does not matter; they are still friends and I want to wish them well. I also do not want to lose track of these people.

There was a time I would take my letter to a copy center and have them make the number of letters I need. The computer has changed all that and now it is easy to write, print and mail everything here at home. That would explain why the copy center is now a furniture store.

I could send the letters attached to an e-mail message and save the postage, paper, and printing ink, but that would be way too impersonal. Receiving a genuine letter in the mail with a few words of a personal nature is still the best.

Let me tell you about the letter itself. In the course of a year, I take a lot of pictures as that is my passion. The photos are both ingredients and inspiration for the final product.

Photos of faces and places are what everyone enjoys, especially the faces.

A few years ago my wife got upset with me because I used the first paragraphs on the front side telling about the family and the rest of page plus all of the back on the subject of the farming and the crop year.

Letters now have family on the front and farming on the back. As the number of grandchildren has grown, farming is now occupying a smaller portion of the back side.

Every year I make a point to leave something out. That something is the word “busy.”

I believe we are all busy. I always have things to do; some of them are more important than others so they get my attention.

However, I am not busy, certainly not too busy.

So, there you have my opinion on Christmas newsletters.

I have my manuscript written and it is time to add the photos.

Christmas will soon be here and I need to get busy. Oops, where did that come from?

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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