Following on from my post about Christmas cards, I’ve been mourning the loss of my favourite type of card – those containing a ’round robin’ letter. These are generally written by wives/mothers and provide an annual summary of family events and achievements over the past year.
They aren’t always appreciated, but I miss them. I think they’ve fallen out of favour in recent times as we’re expected to keep up with the minutiae of each others lives via social networking. I only get one these days, from my friend Krista in Adelaide.
When I was younger the mother of one of my highschool friends sent a round robin letter out each Christmas and my mother was one of the lucky recipients. Its arrival was the cause of great merriment in our household as it was an absolute classic, stuffed full of the exaggerated academic and social achievements of the children and the prodigious career accomplishments of the husband. They could have easily featured in this book.
I would then write a ‘mock’ letter about our own family, highlighting each individual’s disappointments and failures over the year. We would read this amongst ourselves for our own amusement. It was not for public consumption although I was often tempted to post it out and see if anyone reacted.
The final letter from my friend’s mother that I can remember was sent sometime during my University years. It described angrily the way in which my friend’s childhood sweetheart had left her for a woman he met ON THE INTERNET (author’s use of bold and caps). It was the crowning glory, the gold standard in round robins, notable for its indignant tone and uncontrolled use of punctuation.
The letters dried up after that. The author had pushed the medium beyond its limits. There was nowhere left to go.