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Miss Manners: Annual Christmas letters are a nuisance

Dear Miss Manners: Every year we receive a Christmas letter from a couple we see frequently and therefore we are up to date on what’s going on in their family. Their annual letter seems to be nothing more than an opportunity to brag about vacations, vacation homes, their children’s careers and their purchases.

If there was a death in their family and thus a duty to mention it, it is reported as the best funeral ever! Of course after the boasting has been thoroughly covered, the last sentence always includes a wish for our family to have a holiday filled with peace and joy.

I find this type of form letter to be shallow, self-serving and in very poor taste. What was once a means of keeping in touch with distant friends and relatives and conveying the spirit of the season seems to have morphed into a very different agenda. What is your opinion of these letters?

Gentle Reader: Astonishment that you get this only once a year.

Have these people not discovered that on social media, they could post every single day, even multiple times a day – boring not just you, but untold numbers of people, including some they don’t even know? That they could supplement this with pictures, including of every meal they had?

Miss Manners notices that selfie press releases, passed off as “news” about oneself and one’s family, have become a year-round nuisance. The object is to cast the subject in a favorable, if not enviable, light. No doubt your correspondents think of their tone as being cheerful, even when reporting a death.

But they, like nearly all social media posters, suffer from the fatal fault of failing to consider their targeted audience. Personal news should be sent only to people who do not otherwise know it and yet can be presumed to be interested.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.