I just love Christmas cards, annual holiday letters, and family photos that come in the mail.

It doesn’t make sense. David Sedaris’ classic parody in Holidays On Ice should have done in the holiday letter for good:

Many of you, our friends and family, are probably taken aback by this, our annual holiday newsletter. You’ve read of our recent tragedy in the newspapers and were no doubt thinking that, what with all of their sudden legal woes and “hassles,” the Dunbar clan might just stick their heads in the sand and avoid this upcoming holiday season altogether!!

But despite that, I love getting them, and just about every year, even if I’m having a nervous breakdown, I manage to scribble out a holiday letter to send to friends and family (those whose addresses I have–note to self to write cranky post about how people no longer update their address when they move).

I guess you could say it’s in my DNA. The classic family holiday picture my parents posed us for in November 1967 tells the whole story:

I don’t know exactly what they did with it. My mom would remember, but she’s not here, and while dad was art director, I doubt he knows how many were sent to whom. Clearly it’s meant to show off the November weather of the Southwest to friends and family, a kind of taunt that’s also a “wish you were here.” (At least some of you.)

I once joked to friends who’d just given birth that all they had to do for family holiday gifts for about 15 years was document their offspring. But it’s true! All we want is to see those smiling faces, growing up so quickly, brightening up our mailboxes (or inboxes) and reminding us what’s really important in this life.