In the first eleven years of our marriage we moved eleven times. And no, it was not because we were fleeing the law. I was an Air Force Officer for seven plus years and we then spent three years in a New Jersey corporate America stint. During each of those moves we accumulated great friends and wanted to stay in touch with them. For many years we used the occasion of Christmas to send out personal letters to each of our friends. But it finally reached a point where individual cards were extremely time consuming and took away from the joy of the season and keeping in touch.
I didn’t want to write the standard newsy letter that ran into four pages and put the reader to sleep if they’d consumed more than one cup of egg nog. There had to be a better solution, and there was—I delegated it to our dog.
Writing the card from a pet’s viewpoint allows me to inject a sense of humor into the common Christmas letter. And during the few years when our cat “wrote it” it was also a Christmas card with an attitude. Since she’s passed on it has assumed the more friendly voice of Rascal, our cocker terrier mix.
Other friends have adopted the gimmick of letters from the pet or even from the viewpoint of child. At least one friend reports that when our Christmas card arrives her daughters liberate it to see what Rascal has been up to over the past year. And when we run into friends we haven’t seen for awhile they often mention the canine Christmas card. I’m only slightly jealous that he’s the most popular writer in the house.
I can’t recall if the inspiration for this solution came from a friend or from a Cheers television episode I saw years ago. In that episode Woody the bartender received a letter “from” his dog (actually penned by Woody’s mother). As Woody reads the letter aloud his dog talks about all the trouble he’s gotten himself into. Filched roasts, torn up furniture, no cat left un-chased.
As Woody reads on he finally reaches this portion: “I’ve been getting into lots of trouble lately and it’s been tough for your Mom to keep up with me. Don’t be surprised if she has to put me to… .” At this point his voice trails off and he races to the phone, hopefully in time to rescue his beloved pet.
Regardless of the source of inspiration, please forgive me for delegating the annual Christmas letter to the dog. As you can see from this picture he really looks forward to it. He even dresses for the occasion.