Fri, 24 Dec 2010 01:01:00 +0000
Are you, like me, not a fan of Christmas letters?
I’ve never sent one because I find them boring and boastful. This year I received a Christmas letter that deserves a special award for being the most self-absorbed and boring Christmas letter to end all Christmas letters. I’ve changed the names to protect the guilty.
The man I’m calling “Ron” is a professional colleague with the same geographical area of expertise as mine. Although I’ve known “Ron” for many years, I’ve met him a total of probably 15 times — all at various academic conferences and seminars. I met his second wife “Courtney” only once about 10 years ago, for about 2 hours over lunch. I’ve never met his son “RollsRoyce.”
What I find objectionable is not so much the self-absorption, self-promotion, and sheer narcissism in the Christmas letter, but that Ron is exploiting Christmas — a day of celebration and remembrance of Christ’s birth — for his ego tripping.
My e-mail response to Ron follows his Christmas letter.
Ron’s Christmas letter, delivered via e-mail:
December 12, 2010
It was another busy and eventful year for the family and for me…
RollsRoyce has been growing almost an inch a month recently. He is now 5’8”. He is doing well in school; he is in gifted classes and has been on the honor roll every semester. In the spring, he represented his school at area and regional competitions mostly in public speaking. He was tapped into the National Junior Honors Society in the fall and elected an officer of the organization at his school. He has taken the SAT and is getting ready for college—at age 13.
Courtney continued at her job as director of research and assessment at her university.
In January she was selected to be a member of a national accreditation team that met in Naples, Florida for three days. In May she attended a meeting in Chicago and took RollsRoyce. When they had free time they took on a boat ride on Lake Michigan, went to the top of the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower), and ate a deep-dish pizza at Giordano’s. Before they left they had a steak at Don Shula’s restaurant.
Recently Courtney addressed the board of trustees at her university to inform them on the details of how evaluations are done at the institution. She even prepared a self-evaluation for the board.
In early December, she attended the ___ Association of Colleges and Universities national meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.
In January I taught a new course at ___. It was fun. I didn’t know if the students would like it or not. During the term they seemed unsure. At the end of the term they said they really liked the course.
In April my book ______ was published. Also I contributed a chapter to the book _________ that came out from the University of ____ Law School in the spring.
In May I travelled to Washington, DC. While there I had lunch with _____, an old friend and now ___’s ambassador to the United States.
I spent the summer at home. I used every morning to work on another book. RollsRoyce and I went to a nearby health club in the afternoons. I road the bicycles and lifted weights. He did some of that, but played basketball most of the time.
In the late summer I wrote a policy report on the just-concluded economic agreement between ___ and ___ for the ___ Institute. I also finished the entry on ____ for Britannica Encyclopedia.
In October, I went to ___ for the National Day Celebration. I met President ____, Vice President ____, the Foreign Minster, the Vice Minister of Economic Affairs, the Minister of Information, the Speaker of the legislature, and a number of other top officials. Many, including the president, I have known for some years.
In early November my book entitled __________ was published. Word of it got out and I was invited to speak at ______ University in mid-November on that topic. I also spoke at the University of _____ U.S.-____ relations that month.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Ron, Courtney, RollsRoyce
Here’s the e-mail I sent Ron in response:
You must have made a mistake, sending us your curriculum vitae (resumé) for 2010 instead of a Christmas letter to your friends.
A Blessed celebration of Christ’s birth to you and yours,