Christmas is coming … II

by Kim on November 16, 2007

Richard has just had a pre-Christmas gripe. Here is my moan: Round Robins. You know, those insufferably cheerful encyclicals containing descriptions of “our family’s life this past year”. They are becoming more and more common - particularly, I hesitate to concede, among ministers.

Why, for starters, are they invariably written by ministers’ wives? And why are these wives so nauseatingly fawning? Unless they are still on their honeymoon, no woman can love her husband that much. Does she really believe that the light shines in the darkness (I refer to that proverbial anatomical dark spot where the sun is in perpetual eclipse)? I mean the guy works more hours and performs more miracles than God. And even if her-indoors really does believe what she writes, does she really expect me to believe what she believes? If she does, she must think denial is a river in Egypt.

And what am I to make of these descriptions of annual domestic bliss that make Leave It to Beaver look like a scene out of Reservoir Dogs? And what do I care that Jennifer has got a distinction on her grade three piano exam, or that Johnny has got into med school? How refreshing it would be to read that Jennifer now has a tattoo of Lucifer on her forehead, and that Johnny has become a Jehovah’s Witness. And do the senders really think I’m going to save the staged family portrait? There goes another rain forest. Straight into the green recycle bag with you! (By the way, I’m ashamed to say that my own daughter is now a lawyer, while my son is in Dubai for a year in the sleazy world of advertising, though, Inshallah, he will soon be unemployed again.)

Finally, there are the salutations:
May the blah, blah, blah in the year ahead be a blah, blah, blah to you and those you love.
Yours in Christ,
Samuel and Susanna

It makes me want to send a card by return of post signed,
Yours in Nietzsche,
The Wormwoods

The word is kitsch. In The Unbearable Lightness of Being Milan Kundera explains that the original German word, “born in the middle of the sentimental nineteenth century” originally meant “the absolute denial of shit”. And that’s exactly what round robins are like - they have about them the artificial scent of bathroom air fresheners. The first Christmas, on the other hand, had about it the stench of horse manure.

There - that’s my gripe. If I’ve hurt anyone’s feelings, forgive me - and deal with it! :)

Anyway, I guess there’ll be a few less Christmas cards arriving at the manse this year. But the money you would have spent on stamps - give it to that favourite charity of the Religious Right: “Christians against Torture”.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }


Olive Morgan 11.16.07 at 11:58 pm

In defence of Ministers and their round robins, I’m sure you realise that they usually have many more cards to send out than other folk and much less time to write the individual cards (which is why the wives get the job, of course) - unless you subscribe to the view that Ministers only work one day a week! I am looking forward to the round robins from the Ministers who remember me at Christmas. I am about to sit down to compose my own version because we have such a large family and my circle of friends keeps growing. So I know that otherwise people would only get one or two words in their Christmas cards because I’ve run out of time. I see no difference between round robins and posting our thoughts on our blogs. Isn’t your blog a sort of round robin?


Beth 11.17.07 at 12:37 am

As a single person, you can’t really do round robins. I mean, what would you say? “I’m particularly proud of my cat for getting into med school (though he was thrown out again when the porters found him).” Or maybe “This year has seen great family success in the ‘finding complete bastards to go out with briefly before they dump you for a blonde’ department”. I suppose one could include a staged photo in the hope that one of the recipients will show it to their handsome, rich, unattached next-door neighbour. Actually, maybe it’s not such a bad idea…


Paul Martin 11.17.07 at 8:40 pm

And to think I was going to send you a Round Robin with all the news of how my youngsters are doing at the Young Offenders Centre.

Seriously I have known some of those wives who seem to think that the life of the Apostle Paul was basically a dossy preparation for the lives of their own dear husbands. Sadly my wife thinks that I am just a layabout who happens to be paid a stipend as part of the church’s charitable giving.


Kim 11.17.07 at 11:24 pm

Hey, Paul - your wife and my wife would be great pals!


Female Minister! 11.26.07 at 2:30 pm

Just a word to remind those involved in this correspondence that some of us ministers have husbands, not wives. We share the load in producing our very annoying round robin (I write witty prose - takes about 15 mins of careless making it up; he faffs about with a montage of photos for about a week (or 3). Last year he faffed about so long that we didn’t send any at all. Better than the year when I hand wrote 120 and then no-one (read between the lines dear reader) remembered to post them. Bah humbug, indeed.


PamBG 11.26.07 at 5:39 pm

Just a word to remind those involved in this correspondence that some of us ministers have husbands, not wives.

Writing Christmas cards is definitely a ‘wifely’ thing.

For two periods in our marriage, my husband stayed at home and played house-husband. Now that I’m a minister, though, since I work from home, I get to do all the wifely things.

Guy-ministers please add to your list of ministerial duties: cleaning the house regularly, all grocery shopping, all errand-running, all Christmas-gift buying and certainly Christmas-card writing. Since I’ve become a minister, husband goes to work 8 hours a day five days a week. Envious?

I’ve never done a round-robin but I’m considering it this year. Otherwise, it’s either no card or one signed with our names and nothing else. I guess I ’should have’ planned further in advance but, hey, I only do miracles!

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