Christmas Jeers

Advice on manners and morals.
Dec. 17 1999 3:30 AM

Christmas Jeers

Please send your questions for publication to


Dear Prudie,

I received the worst version of the dreaded Christmas letter--addressed to no one in particular--with an early Christmas card. The computerized letter began with the rundown of every family member's "accomplishments" for the last year. Included in the "accomplishments" were being fired from a job, suing someone for discrimination, three near-death experiences, and an extended hospital stay. Having spilled their collective guts all over the page, the writing family then began a paragraph that ominously began, "We don't know how to begin this next paragraph ..." What followed was breathtaking in its bad manners. They went from third-party narrative to first-person accusatory stating that their youngest son (insert name here) had been married in May, and they spent A LOT OF TIME making sure YOU were invited to the wedding, and that YOU had not cared enough to attend, send a present, OR EVEN SEND A $1 CARD. Finally, they say they want to know WHY.

Yes, I was one of the boorish many who didn't attend their son's wedding, or send a gift, or even a $1 card since I had met the son only once when he was 8. Do I owe my friend an apology and her son a card?

--To Ignore or Not To Ignore

Dear To,

How about ignore till the end of time? Of all the tacky, cloddish, judgmental communications Prudie could imagine, this one is right up there. (Prudie doesn't care for these "Christmas letters" to begin with, finding them most often little packages of braggadocio and bathos. They are extremely difficult to do well, and the bottom line is that nobody really gives a rat's patooty whether the writer has had a near-death experience or a promotion.) In this particular case, Prudie hopes your friend does not get Dutch elm disease.

--Prudie, immovably


I'm married to Mr. Angry at the World. He isn't always this way. When we're with friends he generally covers it well, but with family his anger is obvious. So obvious that our children refuse to go places with him because his temper is always flaring. Holidays with him are a nightmare. He makes everyone nervous, and no one has a good time. He whines and yells at the kids for laughing or playing too loud. My 4-year-old-son suggested that we just get Dad a motel room for the holidays and let him deal with room service. I'm considering it--being so tired of dealing with his tantrums and childish attitudes. His family doesn't celebrate holidays, and he feels that my family traditions are impossibly overdone. I feel, however, that children need holiday celebrations, and I like the traditions, feeling they give meaning to life. My question: Since he seems to hate holidays so much, would it be appropriate to just let him spend holidays at a motel? I keep thinking that maybe if he saw what holidays would be like without us, he would realize what he's missing. Please help me.


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 3:19 PM In Defense of Congress Leaving Town Without a New War Vote
Business Insider
Sept. 18 2014 3:31 PM What Europe Would Look Like If All the Separatist Movements Got Their Way
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 4:26 PM Global Oceans Break All-Time Heat Record; World on Pace for Warmest Year Ever
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.