Every year my parents write a christmas letter. Each year I protest. They send this letter off to a bunch of people, most of whom I don’t know. This year they sent it before I even knew about it. I think it’s rude, they’re publishing a polite little update of my life for the nosey people out there, only telling these people about the things they want to share. Just to fill the internet in, here’s what the past 12 months of my existence have amounted to according to the letter:
Matthew celebrated his 21st in January, with parties for friends and family. He returned to new and larger lodgings with his former flatmate for his final year Heath Sciences studies. He keeps in regular contact and turns up at home about once a week. Matthew’s fine detective work recovered his stolen road bike intact – rare events according to the police. Matthew had continued mentoring contracts to supplement his income. He is looking forward to some overseas travel (Hawaii) next year.
They also included a little mug shot so that these people I don’t know will be able to put a face to the story. It’s bad enough that they’ve managed to miss out most of the stuff I consider important, but they could at least get the details right in what they’ve written. The degree is called ‘Heath Science’ and I’ve still got some to go next year. I don’t mentor for the money; if I didn’t like the job I’d prefer to have less money and more free time. I also didn’t like their choice of photo much, but bugger all I can do about any of it now.
My brother is probably worse off, they made comment about the status of his relationship with his girlfriend. That’s definitely no stranger’s business and he’s now going to have to deal with probing questions from relatives and uncomfortable small talk from strangers who we may or may not be related to. It’s intrusive and done without permission. More so, he’s very concerned for his girlfriend who is rather shy and is likely to feel very embarrassed.
I guess what really annoys me though is that they’ve missed out the important bits of what’s happened in 2006. I’ve slowly started learning about Buddhism and poorly practicing it, though my interest is certainly kindled. I’ve continued to politely support critical mass. I bought a drum kit. While I’m no longer a member of the church and I’m opposed to some of the teachings plus I ‘no longer have faith’, I’ve remained interested in the workings of the Lutheran church and hang out with some young lutherans once a week talking about the bible. Late in the year I amped up my commitment towards the vegetarian way of life. I guess most substantially I’ve been pretty depressed for the last eight or nine months; at one point I went to see a psychologist which was good but I considered it too stupidly expensive. I’ve increased the killometres I walk, run and ride, which makes me tired and helps me to eat and sleep. I’ve also written countless words to Deirdre, my dear pen friend who is always ready and listening.
I was going to publish something about my mum and dad for you all to read, something they didn’t include in their christmas letter. I really don’t feel like I know them that well seeing as I can’t find much they didn’t write about themselves. My dad’s still working and still loving his work. He turned 50 this year and is on the home stretch, starting to talk about retirement some where down the track. It looks to me like his health has stabilised but maybe I’m just not around as much to notice it. It keeps him on his toes though. He was planning a camping trip and to drive with mum up to Moomba but his health prevented it this year. He’s bought the Subaru Outback which he was leasing and the idea is still a pipe dream.
Mum is also in pretty good spirits most of the time. She enjoys walking and is still managing a local walking group. She’s also still working as nurse but it’s hard to tell if she enjoys it. It seems like she enjoys it but then often complains about it and talks about moving to another job. It’s hard to tell – she complains about lots of things.
I’ll include something about the other members of my immediate family. Simon turned 18 and is happy, leave him alone. I can’t comment on my sister because I don’t have her permission but there’s a fair chance that she’s also reasonably happy. The cat is being weird again, Sparky (the Jack Russell) is a little sick. Mum’s bird died about 6 months ago. A cockatoo aged about 46 or something. We never really got along. I remember when we moved house I once spent hours and hours talking and singing with him for a couple of months and giving him flowers to eat but he never changed, he always just attacked me. I guess it shows that you can try all you like but sometimes trying to change someone can be a very expensive and fruitless objective.
Anyway, after writing some of this i argued the point with my parents. I think we had the same argument last year. Last year I asked them to run it past me if they were planning to publish stuff about me, if not I’d publish information about them here. That is why I’ve posted this tonight. This year we eventually came to the agreement that I’d hand them a draft on December 1st next year and they’d be able to edit (censor) it before checking with me and publishing.
Unfortunately some of my activities are deemed too political for the christmas letter; Buddhism, vegetarianism, critical mass. The controversy brings to light other questions though. It’s like my parents want to retain this illusion that I’m doing things exactly as they planned. How far would they go to preserve this illusion? Would they continue to censor what friends and family hear if the majority of the things I did displeased them? I’d like to think I’m more than a trophy for them to flash around. One example that dad gave was that, if we were to get married it would be included in the letter to let these people whom we don’t see very often in on what’s been going on. What if (hypothetically) I was gay and had a commitment ceremony? Would that make the letter? How serious does Buddhism have to get before it is brought to light? If I die will I have a Christian funeral?
Anyway.. I’m gambling on not dying any time soon and the next Christmas letter is approximately a whole year away. For now I better focus because we have the onslaught of Christmas lunches coming up.