The majority of people, who are used to receiving my annual letter, were upset, they said, when one year I did not send one. It was a year when there was too much emotional turmoil to cope with, and the last thing I wanted to do was to think about writing letters.
I used to make a point of writing a brief note in a card. Sometimes I wrote an individual letter. As the years moved on the card list extended enormously, and demands at home had grown too. I found myself either speed-writing something virtually unreadable, even by me, or signing with a quick flourish. I know that the keeping in touch is a very important thing, yet it was becoming burdensome. I wanted to say that special word or two, and explain a little of what had been happening with us.
Admittedly, I did not enthuse over the majority of letters I received. Mostly, they broke down in to the gushing type, or, letters that detailed every nuance of the children's stages of development. There was never that special snippet about the writer. Another type of letter named their family members, uncle Tom Cobbly and all. Who were these people? There was no introduction to the characters in the play.
The letters I liked were chatty, they gave you some insight into the difficulties and the good times. Those letters were in the minority. One correspondent, a widow, loyal to her father-in-law, wrote how she championed his care needs and how tough it had been dealing with bureaucracy. However, on balance, this annual letter writing thing, I decided, was not for me.
So, what changed my mind about writing an annual letter? I was being asked similar questions of friends, many of which, could be answered in one template letter, sent with individual variations. I guess my first annual letters were probably unrelaxed and stilted. I found it was a writing form you grew into, in which, a writing persona developed. Writing two or three sides of A4 paper was just too much. Who would want to read all that! Aunty Pam might, but not everybody else in my address book would. Words on one side of A4 paper is good rule of thumb to work to, I decided.
Now, with economies in mind, you also need to think about the new postal arrangements, like keeping your envelope a thin and small letter size, up to 100gm; wadded slightly too much, it won't go through the template, and you have to send it as the more expensive 'large letter'. If you don't put the correct price stamp on the envelope, the recipient ends up paying a penalty fee; not a good idea if you want to maintain happy relationships with your annual correspondents. The costs of sending numerous greetings cards have got out of hand.
Imaginative economy greetings are becoming popular. The electronic greetings cards are quite good fun. Last year, decorated email letters became the new kid on the block; one writer even gave me permission in the first paragraph not to read hers! Doubtless, festive e-correspondence will replace the seasonal cards and personally signed letters. From now on, I expect i-greetings, (mostly from my U.K friends) to increase annually.