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Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate by Dorothy Rosby is a Christmas in July Fete pick #holidayreads

Title: ‘Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate: Holidays, Special Occasions and Other Times Our Celebrations Get Out of Hand

Author: Dorothy Rosby

Genre: Humorous Essays, Holiday Reads

Book Blurb:

’Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate is a collection of humorous essays about how we let our expectations steal the joy out of Christmas and other holidays and special events. It’s understanding for those who think Christmas form letters can be honest—or they can be interesting. And it’s empathy for anyone who’s ever gotten poison ivy during Nude Recreation Week or eaten all their Halloween candy and had to hand out instant oatmeal packets to their trick-or-treaters.

Excerpt from Lie—and Other Tips for Writing the Perfect Christmas Letter:

When I was growing up, my father strung all the Christmas cards my family received in a big X across the ceiling in our living room. I don’t receive enough Christmas cards to make an X on my ceiling. I probably couldn’t even make a Y or an I. I might be able to make a semicolon.

I used to get more cards, maybe because I used to write more cards. And yes, I mean handwrite. Here’s how I did it: I’d start with the first person in my address book, my friend Sue Allen. I’d write out her card then painstakingly copy its contents to my card for the Barbers. Then I’d use the Barbers’ card as a model for the Belmonts and so on. I wrote out my cards in much the same way things were done before the invention of the printing press. My handwriting got worse with each card but my stories probably got better.

It was tedious and time-consuming. In fact, the year I sent my last batch of handwritten Christmas cards, everyone from the Johnsons to the Zieglers didn’t get them until St. Patrick’s Day. But it was so easy I hardly had to think about it. Or anyway, I hardly did think about it. That may explain why over the years several friends complained that they’d received someone else’s card. Someone named Sue.

The year Sue got someone else’s card I decided to quit sending cards. And I didn’t for years. Unfortunately, in return I got fewer and fewer Christmas cards myself until I was down to two—one from my insurance agent and one from a company that sells prepaid funeral plans.

That’s when I decided to try a Christmas newsletter. And since then I’ve started to hear from people I haven’t heard from in years. Of course, they’re not sending cards; they’re sending letters. And those just don’t look good strung across my ceiling. Still, I appreciate them.

I also learn from them. As you can see from the actual letters I’ve included in this book, I do try to heed the most common complaints about holiday letters. If you decide to write one yourself, follow my guidelines:

1. Don’t wait. The earlier you get your letter out the more you can enjoy the holiday season. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

2. Embellish. If your life is like mine, your Christmas newsletter could be—how can I say this diplomatically—dull enough to induce coma. I’m not admitting to anything here, but a lot of people think Christmas letters can be honest or they can be interesting.

Still, you’ll want to balance the need to embellish with consideration of your readers’ feelings of inadequacy. Sure, write glowingly about your many travel adventures but then mention your credit card bills. And be sure and tell them if you lost your luggage, your passport or your temper.

Along with writing about all your successes, tell them about the speeding tickets and overdraft notices you’ve received during the past year. If you lost anything in the stock market recently, now would be a good time to mention it. Also, legal issues are always interesting.

3. Be brief. A holiday letter should be the trailer, not the whole movie. Don’t overdo it when describing the many accomplishments of your children and pets. Avoid blow-by-blow accounts of remodeling projects. And leave out the details of minor and elective surgeries—unless there were complications. Write more than one page and your letter will look like work to read. Your readers may set it aside with the intention of getting to it after the busy holiday season is over. But then it could get tossed out with the wrapping paper and they’ll never know about your legal troubles.

4. Include a family photo. A picture really is worth a thousand words—and given the choice I think most people would choose the picture. Besides, a photograph can say a lot that those on your Christmas list would enjoy hearing: You’re alive and well. You appear to be happy. And you’ve gained weight just like they have.

5. Personalize your letter. If you aren’t careful your Christmas letter will be about as intimate as the back of a cereal box. But you can easily individualize it by typing the phrase “Merry Christmas” on the salutation line and then handwriting the first name of your recipient beside it, preferably in their favorite color. If you still don’t feel your letter is personal enough try enclosing a lock of your hair or your child’s tooth.

6. Introduce. If you feel the need to discuss people not all of your readers know, make it a point to explain who they are. For example, “We went to Bill and Ann’s for Thanksgiving,” should be expanded to “Bill is Nick’s cousin who moved here from Phoenix after he met Ann on the internet. Nick is our next-door neighbor who is married to Ann’s sister Arlene who worked with me at the first job I had when we moved here in 2017.” You get the point—if you made it this far.

7. And finally, keep your wits about you. Never put on a little Christmas music and curl up by your Christmas tree with a cup of cocoa while you write your letter. This is no time to be overcome with Christmas spirit. If you’re not careful you may say something to everyone on your address list that you only mean for a few of them. Something like, “If you’re ever in town, you’re welcome to stay with us.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

Free to read via Kindle Unlimited!

What I love most about the holiday season:

Fudge! Kidding. Sort of. I do love the treats that show up during the holiday season but one of my favorite parts of the season is the music. I’m sincerely grateful to those radio stations that play Christmas music all day, every day from Thanksgiving until Christmas. I can’t help singing along with all my favorites, which I’m sure is as entertaining to the people next to me at stoplights as it is annoying to those in the car with me.

Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?

We all wish our families looked like the attractive, happy family sitting around the Christmas tree in the television commercials. No one is ever crying or fighting or pouting in those. And even though it’s Christmas morning, their hair is combed and their pajamas all match and don’t even look slept in.

But families aren’t perfect and neither are we. And sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Seeing the humor in it all makes the season less stressful and more fun. That’s what ’Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate aims to do.

Giveaway –

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card:

Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.

Runs July 1 – 31, 2023.

Drawing will be held on August 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

Dorothy Rosby is a syndicated humor columnist whose work appears regularly in publications throughout the West and Midwest. Her humor column has twice received first place honors from the National Federation of Press Women. And in 2022 she was named the global winner in the Erma Bombeck Writers Competition. She’s the author of four books of humorous essays including her latest ‘Tis the Season to Feel Inadequate: Holidays, Special Occasions and Other Times Our Celebrations Get Out of Hand.

Social Media Links:

@dorothyrosby (Instagram)


Jul 10, 2023

Spending t8me with family!


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jul 05, 2023

Thank you, Dorothy, for sharing your book in our Christmas in July Fete!

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