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Once upon a time I did not think well of Christmas letters.  A relative on David's side began sending them at least 35 years ago, detailing the wonderful doings of his successful, brilliant and beautiful offspring.  I was tempted then to reply with a parody letter, cheerfully listing the fictitious disasters of our year, but I never did, and in the last fifteen years - since retirement and since my interest in family history began - I have come to realize the value of these letters.  A card with a signature sends one message.  A card with a note and signature sends another.  Adding a typed and duplicated letter, often two pages, with photographs, sends yet another.

The card with signature says "I am aware of your existence," or "You sent me a card last year."  The one with a note says, "I have something specific to communicate with you."  The one with the duplicated letter says, "I want you to know about my family and my year, and this is how I can get my message to the many people I want to have this information."

I appreciate them all.  They all connect person to person.  The third is a particular treasure to the amateur genealogist because of the genealogical information contained in the duplicated letter.  If a hundred cards are sent, it is not reasonable to repeat a hundred times in handwriting the details of the family news.  The duplicated letter can provide that trove of information to help  keep the family tree current and accurate.  

It is many years now since I was impatient with duplicated Christmas letters.  Now, I read them for the joy of knowing more than I would otherwise know about the year of the sender, usually kin,  and then go over them line by line to extract every bit of family information for the family data base.

I am a reformed character in this regard!