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Humor Me: Holiday brag letters

Matt Wixon writes a weekly humor column for The Dallas Morning News. This is his column on bragging Christmas news letters. It is part parody and part example of a humorous Christmas letter written by a trained professional.

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From me:

01 A practical joke
02 My grandparents die
03 English Tour
04 Barn swallows
05 Buying hubcaps
06 Group photos
07 Mr. Science
08 Backpacking, Middle English
09 Leukemia
10 Comfort Clothes
11 Marmots and Texas
12 Eagle, Turkey and Emu
12 Accident and Hike

From Alert Readers:
01 In the Foothills
02 Excess
03 Things unsaid
04 11 Kids
05 Multiple Choice
06 . . . bit my ear
07 Facts and Stats
08 Neiheisel Review
09 Family and Horses
10 Sing a Song
11 The Professional
2007 Collection
2008 Collection
2009 Collection
2010 Collection
2011 Collection

Erma Bombeck & Martha Stewart
Around the World
Coping with DUI
Defining Pretentious
The 12 McQ's

Other sections on my web site:
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Misc. Essays

Happy holidays, everyone!

Just wanted to send along my annual holiday letter. You know, the one that gushes with emotion, sends warms wishes and includes a reminder that I have a bigger house than you, a better job than you, and that my kids are freakin' geniuses.

Wait a second, that's not a description of my holiday letter. That's a description of the holiday brag letters sent to me, which are loaded with words in ALL-CAPITALS and more exclamation points than a desperate real-estate listing (Beautiful tiled entry!!! Gorgeous kitchen!!! Charming blood stains!!!)

The brag letters, tucked inside Christmas cards, are also filled with ridiculous claims like this:

Our 4-year-old continues to show STUNNING ability in math, science, music and sports! Also, some of his paintings are reminiscent of da Vinci, so we're not sure if he'll be an AMAZING artist, or a pro basketball player, or a WORLD-FAMOUS musician who cures cancer!!!

Well, you won't find that in my letter. I vow to spread holiday cheer by telling the truth, unlike the frilly fibbery that will be sent to you by a relative, or a friend, or someone you swear you've never met in your life. (It could be a friend of a friend of that guy who you met in the Jiffy Lube waiting room, because brag letters have no less than 4,000 recipients).

Anyway, I hope the Wixon holiday letter makes you feel better about your year:

Season's greetings! What a year it's been at our house. Ryan is now 4 years old, Cooper is 18 months, and they love to play with each other! Just the other day, I came home from work and heard my wife say, "Ryan, please don't roll your brother across the room."

He's become such a good big brother this year. Ryan even tells Cooper to take small bites of food, "because if you choke," he says, "we'll have to go to the hospital and pick out a new baby." Can't you just feel the love?

It's amazing how much the boys have grown this year. Cooper can already say about 500 words, six of which are in English. The other words are part Mandarin Chinese, part Arabic and part of a lost civilization that communicated in shrieks, grunts and drools. Cooper also wants to learn everything, which is why he loves all his educational toys, especially the ones he can fit in his mouth. And you know what else he puts in his mouth? Dog toys. And Legos. And hair brushes. He even put a rubber stamp that had blue ink on it in his mouth. He looked like the newest member of the Blue Man Group!!!

His brother is very much a big boy now, albeit a big boy who remains deathly afraid of self-flushing toilets. Ryan talks constantly, and he's even learning how to rhyme. He'll just start with a word and go from there, like the time he began with "duck," and then "puck," and then started his Eddie Murphy routine. Ryan also loves to play "hide and seek," but he always tells me where he's hiding as I'm counting. I try to explain the traditional way to play, but he seems to prefer "hide and speak."

Ryan also learned to play tee-ball this year and immediately showed a talent for wandering off the field in the middle of the game. He also learned to dress himself, and he defies the law of averages by putting on his shirt backwards 75 percent of the time. Sometimes his shirt AND pants are on backward, making him look like a devoted follower of the '90s rap duo Kris Kross. Ryan's best look: Shirt backward, pants backward, zipper down. It's good for emergencies, I guess.

Some of the year's other developments . . . Oh yes, we had a garage sale in the summer. It netted nearly $12, along with one person who walked by and said to her friend, "Nothing but crap." . . . Our dog, Maggie, continued to chew up, and then throw up, any toy she could find when we left the house. Our other dog, Casper, continued to try to steal food off of dinner plates. We eventually had to banish him to a bedroom, where he passes the time by getting intimate with a pillow. In another grand achievement this year, I drove several miles with a sippee cup on the roof of the car.

We also had some really exciting moments in the family, like when we learned how we stand out in our neighborhood! The homeowner's association gave us special recognition for having a bush that obscured part of the house's address. The way the HOA's letter used words like "covenant" and "community standards," it was really touching. Also touching was the way the people at Souper Salad helped out after Ryan put on a dramatic show at their restaurant. They offered assistance after Ryan fell off his chair in a spectacular performance that included a slice of pizza taking flight. Unforgettable!!!

That's it for my letter. Now I'll just wait for the holiday letters to start arriving in my mailbox so I can read about everyone's exceptional year. If you'd like to send me yours, feel free. I love good fiction.

Please note, however, that my policy is to stop whenever I see any of these phrases:

"He is a genius."

"Simply phenomenal."

"My new BMW with the three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel."

Matt Wixon

[Matt is a columnist for The Dallas Morning News
Used with permission]

This is one page of over four dozen devoted to Christmas news letters. The main Christmas News Letters page has links to more examples, plus some general guidelines and specific suggestions for writing Christmas news letters. If you have an example, either good or bad, that you'd like to share with the rest of the world, send it to me and I'll add it to these pages.

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This page updated: June 21, 2014