For years we have resisted the round robin newsletter insert to our Christmas cards. We succumbed last year because a serious illness in the family meant there was no time to personalise. This year the problem has been slightly different. No illness, thank goodness, but an unwillingness on our part to explain in each card why the New Year is arriving quicker that we really want.
So, after a family conference, we decided to reprise the round robin. I sharpened my pencil and got stuck in with the first draft. Now it’s probably just a function of the CVs and personal statements I have been generating but I am sorry to say my first efforts lacked that seasonal touch.
Here’s a few examples along with what I meant to say,
Mrs RPS has had significant experience of leading and change management over the last year should have been Mrs RPS has had to deal with an increasingly grumpy husband who is losing his job.
RPS Daughter 1 has a strong track record of achievement in key aspects of the person specification was where I meant to say RPS Daughter 1 has continued to get great grades at school.
Son of RPS has demonstrated his commitment to personal and professional development through his pursuit of a comprehensive learning plan should really have been Son of RPS appears to have an active university social life so far as we can tell from what he writes on Facebook.
RPS is now looking for a new opportunity in an organisation which shares his commitment to excellence and passion for customer service was a convoluted way of saying his nibs is being made redundant, any chance of a job?
You will be relieved to read that my editor, Mrs RPS, intercepted the draft and compelled me to re-think. Just as well really as the first round robins from acquaintances, friends and family have begun to hit our own door mat. In reading them I can’t help wondering if folks are tailoring these to the audience in the way we are advised to tailor job applications.
Those from our closest friends contain the full graphic ups and downs of the year just gone. Much of this we know but the stories are re-told with compelling honesty and humour. Reports from people we know rather less well appear much more anodyne if not a bit self-congratulatory.
What has struck me much more forcefully this year is the difference between what we say and how we feel. Mrs RPS talked about feeling the world around her is carrying on in its same old way unaware of the misery she sometimes feels. I have been pondering that too.
Last Christmas that was us. Reading our first ever round robin again felt a little like reading a school report dated June 1914. Knowing what happens next makes you see how complacent we were. All the trappings of respectable middle-class life are there: the successes of the children; the family holidays; and, what we had been up to at work. There’s no cloud at all, it’s high summer of family contentment and security. Not so this year, just twelve months later.
So I read this year’s incoming updates with part of me wanting to scream a warning about not taking anything for granted.
This was us last year, you could be us next year.
But if anyone had screamed the same warning at us last year I doubt we would have heard or listened if we had. We were safe in our little family bubble.
I’ll leave you with some relevant Hardy (in suitably festive mood):
THAT from this bright believing band
An outcast I should be,
That faiths by which my comrades stand
Seem fantasies to me,
And mirage-mists their Shining Land,
Is a drear destiny.