The Grinch who sent email

Like many other people, in the past few weeks we’ve been receiving Christmas cards and letters.   But we haven’t sent any.

It’s   not that we are opposed to Christmas spirit, like The Grinch or Scrooge, it’s just that we are terribly conflicted and perhaps somewhat incompetent.   (That’s not better, is it?)   Currently I write this blog, and prior to this I wrote another blog for three years, and prior to that I had even more blogs about various projects.   Considerable aspects of our lives have been well documented on the Internet, and there’s hardly more anyone would care to know about us.   So why be redundant and send out a form letter to everyone?

A Christmas card would be nice, but really, it seems to be beyond my ability.   I can write a blog every day for three years.   I can write, edit, and produce a magazine four times a year and ship out 12,000 copies.   I can maintain multiple websites, manage a staff of 10-15, and write personal responses to over 8,000 emails* every year.   But I can’t manage to buy two dozen Christmas cards, address them, and get them in the mail.   There is clearly some sort of mental block here.

mdm-2008xmas.jpg* Note that this works out to an average of 21 email responses every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.   That’s with me responding to only about half of the personal emails I get, too.   If you got a note from me in the past year asking you to please remove me from your email joke list, that’s why.   Sending such requests may lead to people thinking perhaps I really am Scrooge, but it’s just me trying not to disappear in a quicksand of electronic messages.

I admire the photo cards that some people manage to get together.   It shows that you’re organized enough to get the family together weeks or even months in advance, order the cards, and get them in the mail.   The card shown at right is a prime example.   (But I have to admit it didn’t come to me.   I found MM’s trailer and hooked him up with GSM Vehicles, and they got the Christmas card.   There’s no justice.)

You’d think that out of the 10,000 or so photos I shoot every year I’d at least get one or two photos of the three of us.   Not so.   A couple of years ago I tried to make up for the lack of photos of us together, by handing my camera to bystanders when we were at scenic spots.   I ended up with a lot of photos of us appearing as badly-lit dots in front of things like Crater Lake and the Grand Canyon.

After several disappointments, I set up my tripod on the beach at St George Island (Florida) and tried to do it myself with the camera’s self-timer. The result was a lovely photo of Eleanor and Emma, with me grimacing in the bright sun.   The wind was so strong that day that on the 14th or 15th take, the tripod blew over and the Nikon got buried in the sand.   The pop-up flash stopped working, and despite repairs, the camera has never been the same since. We didn’t use the pictures, either.

I’m not alone in my Christmas-card-impeded state.   For many years, Eleanor has written long long Christmas letters with complicated tales of our year in review. The letters usually get printed out on fancy colorful paper, stacked in huge heaps, and then neglected until roughly February. At that point, under prodding by me, a few get mailed to elderly relatives who don’t have Internet, and the rest go into recycling.

This year, Eleanor tried a new tactic.   She wrote a rather succinct letter about our 2008.   Those of you who followed the Tour of America would find it very amusing.   It basically says, “We continued traveling in our Airstream,” and “Emma is doing well with homeschooling.”   Succinct, yes … and for details, she provides the URL of our travel blog.

I’m sure some of the relatives who get it will interpret this as:   “We still live in a trailer because we can’t afford better,” and “we’re neglecting our child’s education.” But we realize that the letter would mostly be going to relatives and out-of-touch friends who have little interest in the details.   Reading a Christmas letter from someone you haven’t heard from in a while is an amusing bonus, something to lighten up the dark winter days.   You get a chance to find out how weird people have gotten since you last saw them. We don’t want to disappoint anyone.

I’m always amazed when someone does manage to get cards or letters out, and I appreciate each one very much.   If we ever got a round of cards out I suspect we might shock some people to the point of requiring medical attention.   I can’t say yet that we will do so this year.   Eleanor’s current letter exists only as a draft, with a total of one copy printed, and it’s December 22.   I have a feeling that, given we are two days from Christmas and leaving for an extended trip in five days, the letter may languish until February again.   It may end up as an email.

Perhaps the best move would be to write   next year’s Christmas letter early.   If we started in February 2009 we might actually get it out by Thanksgiving.   All we would need to do is predict what we might do in 2009, which would be far more amusing anyway.   When the letter actually hit the mail, we could compare the prediction to the reality for our own benefit, but for the purposes of people receiving it, it would probably be close enough.

It might read like this:   “In 2009, we enjoyed a few months in Tucson before getting antsy and heading out in May for several months of travel.   We visited some parts of the northwest US that we hadn’t seen before, and then met friends in Montana and Wisconsin before settling in New England.   Over the summer, Rich finished our 1968 Caravel project so now we have that as a smaller trailer for weekends.   We went to Newfoundland for two weeks, then zipped back to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim. Back in Arizona we adopted a desert tortoise who we named Fluffy, and Emma achieved her green belt in karate.   Later this winter we plan to take an extended trip through Mexico.”

But that might be too boring.  As Emeril might say, why not kick it up a notch?

“2009 has been a spectacular year for us.  Airstream Life took off like gangbusters when Honda introduced a small car that could tow 8,000 lbs and still get 25 MPG.   With the extra money from the business, we added a second story to our Airstream.   Rich had Lasik so he doesn’t wear glasses anymore, and Eleanor got augmented to a D-cup.   Emma suddenly took an interest in science and is applying for her first biotechnology patent this year.   Our tortoise had babies and they all won ribbons at the country fair. Next week we are scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show, and Microsoft has asked us to start a new magazine called ‘Windows Life’.   We hope you are doing well also.”

It’s always healthy to set goals for yourself.   If any of those things happen, you’ll read about it here.   I think you’ve figured out by now that you shouldn’t wait for the Christmas card.


  1. Larry Ko says

    The Victorian Christmas traditions we observe today are extracted from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

    In 1843, the first Christmas card and A Christmas Carol was released.

    After years of economic prosperity promoting “Once-ler” conspicuous consumer consumption, today’s Recession is a reality shock. Inflation and dwindling natural resources mandates that we think and live a “Green life-style” for our immediate benefit. Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, says it all.

    The Christmas card, has evolved into many forms over the years. Correspondence has been made more efficient and easier with technology. Those, who generously share their lives with us by blogging, by phone, and e-mail, really don’t need to send out Christmas cards since felicitations can be conveyed on line via the blog or e-mail.

    I salute the Luhrs for not sending cards and admire their life-style.

    Happy Holidays to all,

  2. Barry says

    Hilarious!! I especially enjoyed the ‘Emeril’ style letter.

    We don’t send cards either, mainly due to being lazy. I’d rather call than write.

    May God continue to bless you and keep you.

    Merry Christmas, Rich, and happy trails.

  3. says

    Merry Christmas to you guys! Happy travels! We are just heading out of California in a week or two. We have been here in the AS for about 4 months. I recommend hitting the Santa Cruz area for some great camping in the redwoods near Felton. We loved it there. Have a great holiday and we look forward to seeing what you do in 2009! Cheers!