It's a chance for the family to deliver news about what they did over the past year. Where they went. What they saw. Achievements. Disappointments. Changes. Anticipated events in the coming year.
Personally, I prefer regular contact as opposed to the data dump as the year turns the corner from old to new. So much of what are in those letters comes off as "old news" - and I find myself wondering why I wasn't important enough to hear about it in a more timely fashion.
"Here's the news from us this year - because you aren't close enough to us to know about it or hear about it just after it happens" - OR "We were just too busy to bother telling you about this stuff then, so here's a brief recap for you now. Enjoy."
I mean - don't get me wrong. I enjoy hearing about friends and their families, but it is a tad upsetting that I'm only good enough to hear about their lives after the fact and but once a year.
This year it was particularly disappointing. One of the biggest achievements of my life - completing and self-publishing my FIRST novel - was shared with one of these year-end update families. I signed a copy to the family and sent it to them with a note soon after the book was published. Response? Nothing. I know, I know - I guess it was too much to expect a "thank you" from them when I considered them special enough to have sent them something to celebrate this milestone in my life.
I mean, they have had a very busy year, according to their year-end review.
But with all this busy-ness, I couldn't even rate a simple little "Congrats on the book. Thank you for sending it to us". Really?
I once tried this with a few relatives. My aunt severely scolded me for sending them a form letter which was not personalized.
I never did it again after that.
That side of my family is famous for their letter faithfulness. Their correspondence over the years fills boxes - all hand-written, all posted about every two weeks. Granted they may say much the same things, but they stand as a testimony of constancy in communication. I was a fool to have tried to streamline such a personal form of communication.
So, I read this family's yearly update, sat back, and thought. I know I'm nobody. I know I don't have the busy and wonderful life they have - and its certainly not worthy of a two-page, single-space summary in a first-class letter mailed to all my friends. But when something as important as a book being published, I took the time to tell them about it, and even send them a copy.
I guess there are some people and some things that just aren't important to some people.