I talked a little yesterday about how hard it is to write Christmas letters. But not as hard as it is to read some of them. I can’t understand why people write them in the 3rd person. You know the person who is writing them is someone in the family. They didn’t hire someone else to do a one-page history of the last year.

For example, if there are four people in the family, the writer will say, “Joe decided to get chickens, Lucy is in 9th grade, Jamie broke her leg, and Rebecca has been busy with her new company.” So who’s writing the fricking letter? If it’s some third party, there should be a by-line somewhere, like:  “2009 Christmas Letter About the Jones Family” by Bob Smith.

Some of these letters go off the deep end. Pam, who must be the writer of one letter because she’s a single mom and you know good and well the 3 year old didn’t write it, says, “Pam has been busy with her job and a toddler. She is hoping to get a promotion so that she can work fewer hours and be able to afford to stay home more. Pam gets very tired sometimes, but she wants to be a good mom and do a great job so she just keeps plugging along. Pam would like to win the lottery or at least find a rich husband, ha ha.”

If you’re writing the Christmas letter for your family, please just say, “I have been busy.” It’s so much easier to plow through.

Here’s something else, but I know if I write it I’ll make some big stupid typo here, but it can’t be helped. Why won’t people read their own letters? They must just pump them out and stuff them in the envelope without a second glance. When I read through their letters I feel like taking a red pen and circling all the errors.

This doesn’t really bother me that much; I’m just struggling to find something to write about. I could mention a TV show I saw yesterday called, “The Science of Dogs.” It really was interesting. Assuming that dogs come from wolves, you’d think they’d have similar behavior, but they’re different in one important way. Dogs use humans to get what they want. When I saw this, I realized just how smart my dog is.

They had a dog and a wolf, and the wolf was raised as a pet so it had always lived with people and wasn’t wild. They tied a piece of meat on a string and put it in a cage, and both the dog and the wolf figured out how to pull the meat out of the cage by tugging on the string. Then they tied the meat down inside the cage but still put the string on it so it looked just like before. The wolf went straight to the string and started tugging, and when the meat didn’t come, it kept tugging, dragging the cage around and getting frustrated. Then they brought the dog in. It tugged on the string exactly twice, then backed off and looked up at the human with this perfect dog face and these eyes that said, “I can’t do it, please help me oh kind sir, and do it quick.”

I have seen that look on my dog so many times it made me laugh out loud. My dog likes to throw balls in the air and chase them around. She thinks she’s going to entice me to play with her by doing this, and sometimes it works. If I’m too busy to play right then, she’ll manage to roll the ball under the couch where she can’t reach it, and she gives me that look. If I’m not looking at her, she’ll bark a particular bark and sit and look toward the couch until I come in the room and ask what’s the matter. She just looks at me, then looks at the couch with that exact TV dog look until I lay down on my stomach and fish that ball out from under the couch.

That dog uses me for all kinds of stuff. She wants out, I get up and let her out. She wants in, I get up and let her in, then she wants out again – all in the space of three minutes. That dog has me wrapped around her finger and I’m on demand to do her bidding anytime day and night.

What that has to do with Christmas letters is this. Maybe it’s not a 3rd party writing those letters; maybe it’s the family dog. I think I’m going to train my dog to type. She’d probably have some pretty good tales to tell. “Yeah, I got Suzanne on her belly six different times today. She’s such a sucker. You’d think she’d learn and just quit doing it. I laugh so hard I puke, which she promptly cleans up and starts talking to me in that stupid baby talk she thinks I like, then asks me if I have a bellyache and slices me some cheese to settle my stomach. Ahhh, a dog’s life is the only life for me. ”